UNHCR and partners to examine improving resettlement for refugees in need, at July 9-11 meeting

Briefing Notes, 6 July 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 6 July 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR and its partners are meeting between Monday and Wednesday of next week in Geneva to look at ways to better help the 859,300 refugees globally for whom resettlement is the only possible solution to their plight.

The 18th Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement, chaired by Australia, and bringing together representatives of resettlement countries, Non-Governmental Organizations, service providers, and UNHCR staff, has three main objectives: it will look at enhancing resettlement as a solution for refugees and as mechanism for burden sharing between countries; improving the ways in which resettlement works with a view to reducing the time taken for considering cases for resettlement; and improving reception and integration of resettled refugees.

Globally, there are just 81,000 resettlement places each year offered among some 26 States, meaning that in any year only one-in-10 persons needing resettlement will have an opportunity to be resettled.

The meeting will also look at how in certain priority situations resettlement can be used more strategically to provide better protection to larger groups of refugees who cannot be resettled. With regard to reception and integration of resettled refugees, UNHCR and its partners are expected to discuss strengthened cultural orientation programmes, enhanced support for post arrival services, and reinforced pre-departure preparations. Capacity building through twinning arrangements between resettlement countries will be explored. The meeting will also give a voice to resettled refugees to share their experiences relating to their integration process and how they have contributed to welcoming new arrivals.

Resettlement is one of three main solutions for refugees (the other solutions being voluntary repatriation, and integration into the country of first asylum) and is an integral part of comprehensive solutions strategies in many UNHCR operations.

Over the past five years UNHCR working with resettlement States, NGOs, and other partners has been able to use resettlement to help 330,000 refugees resume their lives. In 2011 UNHCR submitted 92,000 refugees to countries for resettlement, and 61,649 refugees departed with UNHCR's help to 22 countries. Based on current trends, by country of origin, Somalis, Iraqis, Afghans, and Congolese are expected to be the major refugee populations over the coming years with higher resettlement needs.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile: +41 79 557 91 20
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Resettlement

An alternative for those who cannot go home, made possible by UNHCR and governments.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Between February and October 2011, more than 1 million people crossed into Tunisia to escape conflict in Libya. Most were migrant workers who made their way home or were repatriated, but the arrivals included refugees and asylum-seekers who could not return home or live freely in Tunisia.

UNHCR has been trying to find solutions for these people, most of whom ended up in the Choucha Transit Camp near Tunisia's border with Libya. Resettlement remains the most viable solution for those registered as refugees at Choucha before a cut-off date of December 1, 2011.

As of late April, 14 countries had accepted 2,349 refugees for resettlement, 1,331 of whom have since left Tunisia. The rest are expected to leave Choucha later this year. Most have gone to Australia, Norway and the United States. But there are a more than 2,600 refugees and almost 140 asylum-seekers still in the camp. UNHCR continues to advocate with resettlement countries to find solutions for them.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Abdu finds his voice in Germany

When bombs started raining down on Aleppo, Syria, in 2012, the Khawan family had to flee. According to Ahmad, the husband of Najwa and father of their two children, the town was in ruins within 24 hours.

The family fled to Lebanon where they shared a small flat with Ahmad's two brothers and sisters and their children. Ahmad found sporadic work which kept them going, but he knew that in Lebanon his six-year-old son, Abdu, who was born deaf, would have little chance for help.

The family was accepted by Germany's Humanitarian Assistance Programme and resettled into the small central German town of Wächtersbach, near Frankfurt am Main. Nestled in a valley between two mountain ranges and a forest, the village has an idyllic feel.

A year on, Abdu has undergone cochlear implant surgery for the second time. He now sports two new hearing aids which, when worn together, allow him to hear 90 per cent. He has also joined a regular nursery class, where he is learning for the first time to speak - German in school and now Arabic at home. Ahmed is likewise studying German in a nearby village, and in two months he will graduate with a language certificate and start looking for work. He says that he is proud at how quickly Abdu is learning and integrating.

Abdu finds his voice in Germany

Through the Clouds to Germany: One Syrian Family's Journey

On Wednesday, Germany launched a humanitarian programme to provide temporary shelter and safety to up to 5,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. A first group of 107 flew to Hanover in the northern city of Hanover. They will attend cultural orientation courses to prepare them for life over the next two years in Germany, where they will be able to work, study and access basic services. Among the group are Ahmad and his family, including a son who is deaf and needs constant care that was not available in Lebanon. The family fled from Syria in late 2012 after life became too dangerous and too costly in the city of Aleppo, where Ahmad sold car spare parts. Photographer Elena Dorfman followed the family in Beirut as they prepared to depart for the airport and their journey to Germany.

Through the Clouds to Germany: One Syrian Family's Journey

Celebrating 10 years of refugee resettlementPlay video

Celebrating 10 years of refugee resettlement

Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehousePlay video

Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehouse

An Iraqi man who turned down resettlement to the U.S. in 2006 tells how it feels now to be a "refugee" in his own country, in limbo, hoping to restart life in another Iraqi city.
Emergency Resettlement – One Family's Journey to a New LifePlay video

Emergency Resettlement – One Family's Journey to a New Life

After their family fled Syria, young brothers Mohamed and Youssef still were not safe. Unable to access medical treatment for serious heart and kidney conditions, they and the rest of their family were accepted for emergency resettlement to Norway.