EU Resettlement Network

The Crisis in Syria

For additional information on the crisis in Syria, including situation reports, news articles and other resources, please click here. There are also numerous multimedia resources available here.

THE CONTEXT

As the conflict in Syria deepens and the violence worsens, UNHCR expects that growing numbers of civilians will continue to seek safety and assistance across international borders. Likewise, as the number of displaced people grows, surpassing two million outside of Syria, so does the strain on the capacities of communities in the region. UNHCR has encouraged the international community to show solidarity with countries hosting Syrian refugees in the region by offering resettlement opportunities, humanitarian admission places, and family reunification or other forms of admission for Syrian refugees. These interventions are critical for the most vulnerable refugees who are in urgent need of safety and protection.

WHAT ARE RESETTLEMENT AND HUMANITARIAN ADMISSION?

Resettlement involves the selection and transfer of refugees from a State in which they have sought protection to a third State which has agreed to admit them as refugees with permanent residence status.  

Humanitarian admission is a similar, but expedited, process providing protection in a third country for refugees in greatest need in the region. Residence under humanitarian admission may be either permanent or temporary depending upon State legislation.

WHAT ARE UNHCR’S RESETTLEMENT AND HUMANITARIAN ADMISSION GOALS?

UNHCR initially proposed that countries admit up to 30,000 Syrian refugees on resettlement, humanitarian admission, or other programmes by the end of 2014, with a focus on protecting the most vulnerable. This goal has since been reached and exceeded. However, in light of the growing needs of the Syrian refugee population, this goal represents only the first benchmark in securing solutions for this group. UNHCR anticipates that, in the coming years, there will be increasing numbers of vulnerable Syrian refugees who will be in need of resettlement, relocation, or other forms of humanitarian admission. Therefore, UNHCR has called upon States to make multi-annual commitments towards a goal of providing resettlement and other forms of admission for an additional 100,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 and 2016. With the goal of 30,000 having been reached, focus must now be on securing pledges for this additional figure by the end of 2016. States are encouraged to offer places for Syrian refugees in addition to their current resettlement quotas to ensure that resettlement opportunities also continue to be available for refugees from the rest of the world. 

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM RESETTLEMENT AND HUMANITARIAN ADMISSION?

UNHCR is working closely with resettlement and humanitarian admission countries to prioritize the most vulnerable, including women and girls at risk, survivors of violence and/or torture, refugees with medical needs or disabilities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex refugees at risk, vulnerable older adults, and refugees in need of family reunification.  Refugees who face serious threats to their physical security, particularly due to political opinion or belonging to an ethnic or religious minority group, may also be prioritized. Vulnerable refugees are identified through registration data and community outreach by UNHCR and its partners. UNHCR is enhancing its capacity to identify vulnerable refugees and to streamline procedures for referral. As the programmes continue to grow, additional personnel, equipment, and resources are needed.

FROM WHICH COUNTRIES WILL UNHCR CARRY OUT RESETTLEMENT AND HUMANITARIAN ADMISSION?

The programmes are implemented in countries neighbouring Syria and in the wider region hosting the largest numbers of refugees who have fled the conflict, including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, as well as other countries in the region, as needed.

WHICH COUNTRIES ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE RESETTLEMENT AND HUMANITARIAN ADMISSION PROGRAMMES OF SYRIAN REFUGEES SO FAR?

To date, numerous countries have pledged to receive refugees on resettlement, humanitarian admission and other programmes, with total pledges now at more than 41,958 places, plus an additional number to the United States of America. An unprecedented majority of these pledges comes from European States (17). The following countries have pledged to receive refugees on resettlement, humanitarian admission or other programmes:

COUNTRY

Confirmed/Official Pledges (Persons) Since 2013

Argentina Humanitarian Visa Programme

Australia

5,600 resettlement and Special Humanitarian Programme*

Austria

1,500 Humanitarian Admission

Belarus 20 Resettlement

Belgium

150 Resettlement

Brazil Open-ended humanitarian visa programme*

Canada

200 Resettlement

1,100 Private Sponsorship

Denmark

140 Resettlement

Finland

500 Resettlement

France

500 Humanitarian Admission/Resettlement

Germany

 

Hungary

20,000 Humanitarian Admission

8,500 Individual Sponsorship

30 Resettlement

Ireland

310 Resettlement*

Liechtenstein

25 Resettlement

Luxembourg

60 Resettlement

Netherlands

250 Resettlement

New Zealand 100 Resettlement

Norway

Portugal

1,000 Resettlement

23 Resettlement

Spain

130 Resettlement

Sweden

1,200 Resettlement

Switzerland

500 Resettlement*

United States of America

Uruguay

Open-ended number on resettlement

120 Resettlement

TOTAL PLEDGES

 41,958 + an additional number to the United States of America

*1,114 granted to end June 2014 and at least 4,500 over the next three years until 30 June 2017.
*Brazil has launched a humanitarian visa programme for individuals affected by the conflict in Syria. Under this programme, Brazil has so far issued 4,200 humanitarian visas. Individuals admitted to Brazil under this programme have the right to apply for refugee status. To date 1,245 applications for refuge, launched by individuals admitted to Brazil under the humanitarian visa programme, have been approved by the National Committee for Refugees (CONARE).
*Ireland's pledge includes 90 in 2014, 100 in 2015, and 120 in 2016.
*Under a pilot project started in 2013, Switzerland is resettling 500 over three years, of which 350 will be submitted by UNHCR by the end of 2014. In addition, Switzerland initiated a temporary extended family reunification programme from September to November 2013. Under this programme, 8,200 applications were received, and 3,750 visas have been issued to date.
 

In addition, the UK has created the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme for Syrian refugees; Ireland launched the Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme; while 15 federal states in Germany initiated their own reception programmes for Syrian nationals with relatives in Germany. Approximately 7,500 visas under the German scheme have been issued to date.

WHAT OTHER STEPS HAVE COUNTRIES TAKEN IN ADDITION TO PARTICIPATING IN THE RESETTLEMENT AND HUMANITARIAN ASMISSION PROGRAMMES?

To pave the way for further State commitments and support, a Core Group on Syrian Resettlement, comprised of resettlement States and chaired by Sweden, has been established and held its inaugural meeting on 12 December 2013 in Geneva.

UNHCR is coordinating a Resettlement Working Group with the host countries neighbouring Syria and in the wider region to regularly exchange information and feedback on the implementation of the resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes for Syrian refugees.

Countries have also offered other forms of admission, such as simplified and expedited family reunion and the extension of student or employment-related visas, which are very welcome. UNHCR hopes that other States will follow suit through flexible application of family reunification criteria and procedures, as well as dispensing with certain visa requirements and facilitating entry of Syrians for work, study, family, or humanitarian purposes under national programmes.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

As Network members, there is much that can be done to advocate and encourage local communities, local, regional and national representatives, as well as appropriate institutions and organisations to facilitate increased resettlement opportunities and humanitarian admission for the most vulnerable Syrian refugees.

For this purpose, please do not hesitate to utilise the information outlined above in your advocacy efforts, which will be updated on a regular basis. 

For additional information on the crisis in Syria, including situation reports, news articles and other resources, please click here. There are also numerous multimedia resources available here. 

Photo 1: © UNHCR/July 2013

Photo 2: © IOM/2013

Photo 3: © UNHCR/E. Dorfman/2013