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A New Beginning in a Third Country

Many refugees cannot go home because of continued conflict, wars and persecution. Many also live in perilous situations or have specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection. In such circumstances, UNHCR helps resettle refugees to a third country.

Resettlement is the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another State that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement. UNHCR is mandated by its Statute and the UN General Assembly Resolutions to undertake resettlement as one of the three durable solutions. Resettlement is unique in that it is the only durable solution that involves the relocation of refugees from an asylum country to a third country. Of the 14.4 million refugees of concern to UNHCR around the world, less than one per cent is submitted for resettlement.

Only a small number of States take part in UNHCR's resettlement programme. The United States is the world's top resettlement country, while Australia, Canada and the Nordic countries also provide a sizeable number of places annually. In 2015, Italy became a new resettlement country and The Republic of Korea announced a three-year resettlement pilot programme, increasing the number of resettlement countries to 28.

Resettlement States provide the refugee with legal and physical protection, including access to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals.

In 2014, UNHCR submitted the files of some 103,890 refugees for consideration by resettlement countries. By nationality, the main beneficiaries of UNHCR-facilitated resettlement programmes were refugees from Syrian Arab Republic (21,154), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (18,828), Myanmar (15,170) and Iraq (11,778). In addition, 12.6 per cent of all submissions were women and girls at risk, the highest percentage of the last six years.

In the same year, over 73,000 individuals departed to resettlement countries with UNHCR's assistance. The largest number of resettled refugees left from Malaysia (10,976), followed by Turkey (8,944), Nepal (8,582), Thailand (7,170), Lebanon (6,285) and Kenya (4,913). Resettlement is a life-changing experience. It is both challenging and rewarding. Refugees are often resettled to a country where the society, language and culture are completely different and new to them.

Providing for their effective reception and integration is beneficial for both the resettled refugee and the receiving country. Governments and non-governmental organization partners provide services to facilitate integration, such as cultural orientation, language and vocational training, as well as programmes to promote access to education and employment.




Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR)

A mechanism to enhance partnership between UNHCR, Governments and NGOs.

UNHCR-ICMC Resettlement Deployment Scheme

UNHCR and the International Catholic Migration Commission support for resettlement activities.

Resettlement on Refworld

Refworld contains a wealth of documents related to resettlement, including statistics and legal, policy and background information.

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.

A new life for refugees from BhutanPlay video

A new life for refugees from Bhutan

They fled to Nepal from Bhutan amid ethnic tensions in the early 1990s. Now, many of the slightly more than 100,000 refugees have been offered the possibility of resettlement to another country.