Emerging Resettlement Countries
New Doors Open
Nine governments* currently host the bulk of the refugees who are annually resettled in new countries. Finding other states willing to accept vulnerable people and strengthening recently introduced programmes in places like Chile, Benin, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Ireland, Iceland and the United Kingdom has become a UNHCR priority.
In South America, following the agreement reached on the implementation of resettlement programmes in 1999-2000, Chile and Brazil received increased numbers of refugees. Chile accepted in the past years Iranians and Afghan refugees, and more recently Colombian refugees from the South American region. Brazil accepted Afghan refugees and also Colombians from the region.
Ireland agreed in 1999 to formally accept refugees for resettlement and since then an annual quota of some 50 refugees has been processed for resettlement to Iceland. Among them are refugees from Rwanda, Sudan, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Liberia, Congo, Somalia, Tunisia and Iran.
Iceland agreed in 1996 to establish an annual resettlement quota, though it had earlier settled people from as far apart as Poland and Viet Nam. The Ministry of Social Affairs, through the Icelandic Red Cross, is responsible for the selection, admission and integration of refugees in the country who, in recent years, included refugees of several ethnic backgrounds from the Balkan region.
Although Spain has no fixed quotas or specific annual resettlement programmes, the government responded to UNHCR appeals and 1,426 Kosovar Albanians arrived in 1999 under UNHCR's Humanitarian Evacuation Programme. In February 2000, a group of 17 Afghans from Uzbekistan were resettled.
The United Kingdom opened a resettlement programme in April 2003, with an annual quota of 500 places. Initial focus of the programme has been West Africa where Liberian refugees were selected in 2003.
In Africa, Benin and Burkina Faso have been implementing programmes since 1998 and refugees were resettled from a variety of countries, including Chad, the Great Lakes region, Equatorial-Guinea, Sudan, Sierra-Leone, and Algeria have resettled in these two African countries.
In 2004, UNHCR conducted an evaluation of the resettlement programmes in Benin and Burkina Faso from 1997 to 2003. The evaluation analysis the experience of implementing resettlement programmes in developing countries and focuses on the circumstances and the lessons learnt in this resettlement pilot project.
A wide range of recommendations are provided by the report, which encompass resettlement efforts into a broader spectrum of protection, integration and development activities which would ensure the sustainability of the resettlement efforts.
*United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, The Netherlands.