Resettlement can't wait: civil society organisations urge the EU to urgently revive refugee resettlement efforts paused due to COVID

Resettlement can’t wait: Civil society organisations urge the EU to urgently revive refugee resettlement efforts paused due to Covid

 

Seven major civil society organisations and networks have today launched a joint statement urging the EU to urgently kickstart and increase its refugee resettlement efforts, which were paused due to Covid 19.

 

Resettlement is one of the few safe, legal pathways available for vulnerable refugees to reach the EU from third countries such as Lebanon, Libya and Uganda. In 2019, more than 21,000 refugees were resettled in the EU.

 

However, travel restrictions due to COVID brought resettlement to a standstill for several months this year. Since the start of the pandemic more than 10,000 refugees have had their departures to the EU cancelled. Despite resettlement programmes slowly restarting, global resettlement efforts are reportedly still at a record low.

 

The seven organisations and networks are calling for the EU and Member States to fulfil their pledges to take in some of the world’s most vulnerable, as well as:

 

·    Meet their commitment to resettle 30,000 refugees in 2020, and increase this to at least 35,000 in 2021.

 

·    Work in partnership with countries of asylum, civil society, welcoming communities and refugees themselves.

 

·    Seize the opportunity presented by the Pact on Migration and Asylum, to be launched on Wednesday, to frame resettlement and other safe, legal avenues to protection as a priority for the EU.

 

The statement is co-signed by: International Rescue Committee, Caritas Europe, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, International Catholic Migration Commission, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, SHARE Network, and the Red Cross EU Office. 

 

Read the IRC op-ed published on EuroNews here

 

Imogen Sudbery, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee says:

 

The EU has played an important and growing role in refugee resettlement over the past five years, but it can still do far more: IRC is calling on European countries to resettle 250,000 refugees by 2025. COVID-19 did not create the need for more resettlement to the EU, but the pandemic has once more underlined the urgency for programmes to be significantly scaled up in a sustainable and future-proof way. Low- and middle-income countries bordering crisis zones cannot continue to bear the responsibility for hosting the majority of the world’s refugees alone. 

 

The latest escalation in Moria also clearly shows that things cannot continue as they were, with containment policies standing in place of a fair system based on responsibility sharing and safe and legal routes to protection. The new Pact on Migration and Asylum is a crucial opportunity for the European Commission and member states to show that they are serious about wanting a fresh start to EU asylum and migration policies by protecting the right to seek asylum and making resettlement a key priority.”

 

Petra Hueck, Director at ICMC Europe/SHARE Network says: 

 

'COVID-19 has made clear that many meetings and conferences can be avoided. For resettlement to pick up speed and reach targets for 2020, countries must look for alternatives to travel for ‘on site’ selection and pre-departure cultural orientation missions. Let’s innovate in resettlement, do it NOW and focus on results. Current good practice includes France, to where resettled refugees will travel next month thanks to the use of electronic ‘dossier’ submissions, and the Swiss use of remote video interviews to select refugees and ensure arrivals in 2020'

 

Torsten Moritz, Secretary General at CCME says:

 

In 2019, the EU and its member states made an important commitment to resettlement at the Global Refugee Forum. As international travel is resuming, they should try everything to meet the 30,000 places target in 2020 and go beyond in 2021.”

 

Maria Nyman, Secretary General of Caritas Europa says:

 

The protection needs are huge: 1,45 million refugees worldwide have been identified by UNHCR as particularly vulnerable and in need of resettlement. The pandemic should not be used as an excuse by EU states to delay the implementation of their commitment to bring 30,000 of these people to safety in the EU this year. Global solidarity and responsibility is needed now more than ever.”