Representatives of the European Union, the United States of America, the Government of Canada and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees met on 9 July 2021 at the High-level Resettlement Forum convened by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson. The participants confirm their determination to work together and coordinate efforts to provide the much-needed solutions for vulnerable refugees around the world, while ensuring their prospects for the future.
In a world still marked by conflict and persecution, the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention recalls the importance of providing international protection. Resettlement is a key tool for providing that protection to the most vulnerable, allowing them to reach their new homes in a safe and orderly manner. Resettlement is also a way of increasing responsibility sharing and demonstrating solidarity with countries hosting large numbers of refugees.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted resettlement procedures globally and led to historically low levels of movements around the world in 2020. With the global health situation improving gradually, the moment has come to show leadership and step up resettlement in response to the consistently high needs, estimated at 1.47 million for 2022.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Today's High-level forum on resettlement affirms our democratic willingness to promote safe and legal pathways to protection. I thank the UNHCR, as well as our Canadian and American partners, for providing renewed momentum to our respective resettlement programmes. It is only together that we can make a difference. I also hope to advance the negotiations on the Union Resettlement Framework Regulation, during the course of the Slovenian Presidency, to give us a stronger basis for our contribution to global resettlement efforts.”
Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, said: “The world is facing a refugee crisis and Canada will do its part, alongside our European and American friends. Since the onset of the pandemic, Canada has been one of few countries that never stopped resettling refugees, and last year we welcomed nearly one third of all refugees resettled around the world. With the global refugee resettlement system operating at reduced capacity, the world's most vulnerable are counting on us more than ever. Today's forum reaffirms our collective commitment to step up, take action and do more for those fleeing war and persecution, together.”
United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said: “The Biden-Harris Administration is honoring America's long tradition as a beacon of hope and promise for refugees and for the persecuted worldwide. We are committed to rebuilding our resettlement program and creating additional legal pathways for people in need of protection. We will keep working closely with our partners in government and civil society across the world to serve as guardians for those facing threats to their lives, safety, and freedom.”
United States Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Brian P. McKeon, said: “As we commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, we are reminded of the importance of global cooperation to protect the most vulnerable refugees and address surging displacement due to conflict and persecution… So for those who will not be able to return home or who continue to face persecution in countries of first asylum, the vital lifeline of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is being restored as a critical component of the full array of U.S. global humanitarian leadership.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said: “While the 1951 Refugee Convention is 70 years old, the principles and practices of guaranteeing refugee protection, including direct access to asylum, are as critical today as they have ever been. Resettlement and other safe and orderly pathways are also a lifesaving and life changing avenue to protect refugees. I am therefore extremely grateful that UNHCR, and especially refugees themselves, can count on the European Commission, the United States of America, and Canada's continued leadership in this area. Today, I appeal to States around the world to scale up their admissions under these and other important programmes.”
Today's High-level forum reinstated the willingness to:
-step up the joint resettlement efforts and bring tangible contributions to the overall global needs, where more than 1.47 million people are estimated by UNHCR as being in need of protection through resettlement;
-step up exchanges of good practices and to promote peer learning on resettlement. The Network on Resettlement and Humanitarian Admission of the European Asylum Support Office will facilitate regular meetings and study visits on topics of joint interest;
-consider the possibilities for closer partnerships, coordination and mutual support;
-join forces to promote private/community sponsorship programmes together with the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative and other partners, recognising the benefit of engaging communities and civil society in the reception and integration of resettled/admitted refugees and acknowledging the potential of such schemes to provide a higher number of admissions places;
-promote complementary pathways for people in need of international protection to harness the skills and competencies of refugees, support refugee agency to access existing complementary pathways, and provide durable solutions in addition to resettlement;
-involve refugees to ensure that their perspectives are duly taken into account in resettlement programmes.
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