Coronavirus – Africa: UNHCR appeals for resettlement places as record forced displacement and protection needs outstrip solutions

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Over 1.4 million refugees currently residing in 62 host countries will be in need of resettlement next year according to latest estimates released by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, at an annual resettlement forum today. “With one per cent of humanity now displaced and the overwhelming majority hosted in developing regions facing their own challenges, protection needs are rising but there is a huge deficit in terms of solutions. We need countries to do more and help us find safe homes for those whose lives depend on it,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi who is attending the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) this week. This year’s resettlement conference is co-hosted with the government of Canada and the Canadian Council for Refugees and is being held virtually. According to the Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2021 report, launched today at the ATCR, refugees most at risk and in need of resettlement include Syrian refugees. For the fifth year in a row Syrians represent the population with the highest resettlement needs (41 per cent), followed by South Sudanese (9 per cent) and Congolese refugees (9 per cent). “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict and persecution have not stopped and people around the world continue to flee their homes in search of safety,” said Grandi. “Resettlement can never be a solution for all of the world’s refugees but for the few that are most at risk it can mean the difference between life and death.” Resettlement, which involves the relocation of refugees from a country of asylum to a country that has agreed to admit them and grant them permanent settlement, helps ensure the protection of those whose lives may be in danger or who have specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection. Developing countries host 85 per cent of the world’s refugees. By region of asylum, the East and Horn of Africa region continue to account for the highest resettlement needs. This is followed by Turkey, which is host to 3.6 million refugees, the Middle East and North Africa and the Central Africa and the Great Lakes region. To share responsibility and show solidarity with states supporting large refugee populations, increasing opportunities for refugees to move to third countries through resettlement and complementary pathways for admission, including family, work and study routes, is one of the key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees. Last year, UNHCR and partners launched a Three-Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways which foresees the resettlement of one million refugees and the admission of two million refugees through complementary pathways by 2028. To realize this goal, more countries are needed to join the resettlement program and offer places for refugees. In 2019, 26 countries admitted 107,800 refugees for resettlement of which nearly 64,000 were with UNHCR’s assistance. This year only 57,600 resettlement places have been made available by states to UNHCR. Unfortunately, COVID-19 will impact the full realization of these resettlement spaces. “I call on all countries to step up and make additional contributions to support the most vulnerable refugees – including through resettlement, humanitarian corridors and other admissions schemes, as well as education, labour and family reunification arrangements. The need for solidarity is now more urgent than ever,” said Grandi.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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