Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

NGOs call for global solution to refugee crisis

15 June 20160 comments

A meeting of global Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) has called on nation states to increase the size and inmprove the quality of refugee resettlement programs across the globe as the number of displaced persons climbs above 60 million.

A communiqué from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2016 Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement held in Geneva this week said the number of refugees in need of resettlement far exceeded the available number of resettlement places.

And this year, for the first time, the number of refugees estimated by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in need of immediate resettlement exceeded one million, the communique said.

“With this number in mind, NGOs continue to call on countries to introduce sizeable and quality resettlement programmes or significantly increase the quota of existing resettlement programmes. Countries have the capacity to collectively ensure that resettlement needs are met,” the communiqué said.

“NGOs strongly call upon countries to increase their pledges at the upcoming US-led high level meeting on the refugee crisis on 20 September.”

The communiqué also called on nations to aim towards the goal to support the Global Compact on Responsibility-Sharing for Refugees called for by the UN Secretary General.

In particular, it called for increased pledges of resettlement places with a view to collectively aiming towards the goal of “providing resettlement spaces or other legal pathways for admission to at least 10 per cent of the global refugee population annually.”

With conflict in Syria now in its sixth year, theer were few signs that it will end soon, the communiqué said.

“Out of over five million Syrian refugees, UNHCR estimates that 480,000 are in need of resettlement and this number keeps growing,” it said.

The communiqué condemned the EU-Turkey deal that has made resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to the EU conditional on individuals being returned from Greece to Turkey.

“This deal results in a shameful one-for-one trading in human beings and implies large-scale returns between countries that do not ensure refugee protection,” it said.

“NGOs are also extremely concerned that this deal creates a precedent of using resettlement as a reward to countries for introducing deterrence measures – something that NGOs strongly condemn.

“Resettlement is a humanitarian, life saving tool and a durable solution which should be offered irrespective of political agendas. NGOs caution against the EU-Turkey deal setting a precedent for other countries to follow,” the communiqué said.

“Syrians are not the only group of refugees in need of resettlement. Other groups of refugees such as Somalis, Afghans and Rohingyas who are in protracted refugee situations should not be overlooked when it comes to opening up resettlement places,” it said.

The communiqué said timely resettlement must remain a priority.

It said countries needed to achieve consensus on and put in place less time-consuming and more expedited procedures to process refugees for resettlement.

Combining refugee status determination and resettlement interviews was one way to do this.

“Otherwise delays will only force vulnerable people into the hands of smugglers and traffickers,” it said.

“Given the current global need, countries should provide alternative or complementary pathways beyond resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes.

“Other pathways include extended family reunification, medical evacuation and also humanitarian visas, labour mobility schemes, work visas, student scholarships and private sponsorships.

“These pathways can be crucial for refugees who are unable to access resettlement, providing them with a route to safety so they are not compelled to embark on life-threatening journeys in the hands of smugglers,” the communiqué said.

It said that public support the settlement of refugees was a crucial part of the provision of durable protection.

“Being an active part of civil society, NGOs contribute to strengthen public support. NGOs call upon States to actively contribute to promoting a welcoming society for refugees,” the communiqué said.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist