The 2005 ‘Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Regional Protection Programmes’ created RPPs. RPPs are international protection instruments that aim to improve refugee protection in target regions through the provision of durable solutions. Voluntary repatriation and local integration are the primary durable solutions considered within RPPs, with resettlement to a third country considered when neither of these options are feasible.
A 2009 external evaluation assessed both the general concept of RPPs, as well as two pilot RPPs implemented in the Western Newly Independent States (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine) and in the Great Lakes Region (Tanzania). The study concluded that a very small number of refugees had been resettled to Member States within the framework of RPPs; that RPPs suffered through a lack of coordination between EU Directorate Generals; and that the concept of RPPs was generally not visible or well understood in the beneficiary countries.
Under the recently approved Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), which replaces in a single fund the previous Integration, Refugee and Return Funds for the period 2014-2020, funding for RPPs and their resettlement component is maintained. However, the fact that a country resettles from a RPP region does not necessarily mean that resettlement is carried out in the framework of an RPP.
Five RPPs have been implemented since 2004, all of which are still ongoing at the time of writing. Resettlement accounted for a relatively small part of the durable solutions provided to refugees in these contexts, as detailed below.
RPP in the Great Lakes Region (2004-Present)
Implemented by UNHCR, the RPP in the Great Lakes Region (Tanzania) mainly focuses on local integration through naturalisation and voluntary repatriation. From 2004-2008, 434 refugees were resettled under the RPP to seven EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK). The majority of these (61 per cent) were resettled to the Netherlands. By contrast, 12,471 refugees from Tanzania were resettled to Australia, Canada and the United States during the same period.
RPP in the Western Newly Independent States (2009-Present)
Begun in 2009, the RPP in the Western Newly Independent States supports Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine to implement their protection obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Most projects under this RPP are implemented by international and local NGOs, and focus on activities to improve the general protection situation for refugees and asylum seekers in the three countries. Approximately 204 refugees were resettled from Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine from 2004-2008. Similar to the pilot RPP in the Great Lakes region, receiving Member States included Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Sweden resettled the majority (79 per cent) of the refugees resettled during this period.
RPP in the Horn of Africa (2011-Present)
The RPP in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Kenya and Yemen) began in September 2011. It aims to strengthen protection and enhance assistance for refugees and asylum seekers in the region, as well as provide border security and protection against trafficking.The resettlement process in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya has been complicated by growing insecurity in the camps and subsequent difficulties in accessing the populations living there.
RPP in Eastern North Africa (2011-Present)
Established in December 2011, and implemented in partnership with UNHCR, the RPP in Eastern North Africa focuses on Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. The programme includes a resettlement component inserted at the request of the European Commission. Eight Member States - Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden - agreed to resettle from Shousha camp in Tunisia from within their existing resettlement quotas. Belgium also resettled 25 refugees from Shousha as part of an ad-hoc resttlement initiative. Globally, a total of 3,733 refugees were accepted for resettlement from Shousha (3,041) and Salloum (692) camps, the latter located along the Egyptian-Libyan border. Of these, 869 refugees (667 from Shousha and 202 from Salloum) were accepted by Member States, of which 802 finally departed. UNHCR officially closed Shousha camp on 30 June 2013. Although a number of refugees remain, the proposal is for them to integrate locally. Salloum, which currently hosts some 244 refugees, is expected to close over the course of 2014.
Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP) in the Middle East
In 2012, the Justice and Home Affairs Council approved the Commission’s proposal to establish an RDPP in response to the Syria refugee crisis. The aim of the RDPP will be to support Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq to develop sustainable capacities to respond to the crisis in the medium and longer term. The RDPP will focus on promoting local integration, and is also expected to have a resettlement component.
The main activities supported by the new programme will include market-based support for creating employment opportunities, micro-enterprise finance, skills development training, and vocational training, as well as appropriate social infrastructure development, including education, water and sanitation and improved energy supply. It will also aim to strengthen the protection of refugees in the region through promoting improved access to basic rights and appropriate legal assistance, as well as to provide training to local and national authorities and civil society groups who are active in the field of asylum and refugees.
The total EU contribution to the programme amounts to €12.3 million (total budget of the programme is €16 million). The remaining budget comes from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Netherlands, and the UK Home Office.