4 July 2014

At a meeting of 42 States on resettlement of Syrian refugees last Friday 27 June, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland and Uruguay pledged 565 new resettlement or humanitarian admission places for Syrian refugees. Belgium announced that it will resettle 75 refugees from Syria in 2015, in addition to the 75 places already committed for Syrians in 2014. Ireland is now offering a total of 310 places over three years, 90 in 2014, 100 in 2015, and 120 in 2016. Switzerland is resettling 500 people over three years, 350 of whom 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 during the three months, and 3,750 visas have been issued to date.

Over 2.9 million people have now fled the conflict in Syria. Since mid-2013, 34,700 places for the refugees have been offered by States worldwide, with an open-ended offer by the United States. 26,293 places have been provided by EU countries, Norway and Switzerland, with Germany accepting 20,000 of the people fleeing the war. Germany has also accepted an additional 5,500 people under individual sponsorship. UNHCR has asked States to provide 30,000 resettlement and humanitarian admissions places for Syrian refugees in 2013 and 2014 and is seeking a further 100,000 places for 2015 and 2016.

In reaction to the new pledges, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has stated: “I hope this momentum continues over the coming months. Resettlement and other humanitarian admission programmes are critical and can be life-saving for the victims of the conflict in Syria. This represents another expression of solidarity with the host countries and the communities that have been suffering the impact of this terrible conflict on their economy and society.”

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 4 July 2014.
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