12 December 2014
At a ministerial-level meeting on resettlement and other forms of admission for Syrian refugees this week, European States have offered an additional 4,000 places to refugees who have fled war-torn Syria. Norway and Sweden offered the most places with 1,500 each; France pledged 500 additional places; the Netherlands, an extra 250 places; and Belgium 150 more places. Poland, who had not previously made any resettlement commitments, offered 100 places for Syrian refugees.
In addition to the 28,500 places already committed, Germany has recently offered an additional 1,500 places for individual sponsorship. Portugal has made 70 emergency scholarships available for higher education. Ireland announced that 111 Syrians had been admitted to Ireland under the Syrian Humanitarian Admissions Programme last spring.
These pledges, along with the 1,500 places offered by Brazil, bring the current international resettlement commitment to 67,638 places, which corresponds to just over 2% of the 3.2 million registered Syrian refugees. In light of this week’s pledges and indications of future commitments, the UN Refugee Agency expects the total number of places for Syrian refugees available in the coming months to reach 100,000.
Ahead of the conference, over 30 international organisations, including ECRE, called on governments to commit to resettling at least 5% of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria currently in neighbouring countries – 180,000 people – by the end of 2015. With regard to this call, Aspasia Papadopoulou, ECRE Senior Advocacy Officer, said, “It is feasible; it is a number that it is not unrealistic, States can do that. It is only a matter of each state offering just a little bit more than what they offer.” UNHCR estimates that more than 10% of the 3.2 Syrian million refugees living in Syria’s neighbouring countries are “acutely vulnerable individuals and need resettlement elsewhere.”
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres highlighted the fundamental role played by Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt in hosting the vast majority of Syrian refugees. The High Commissioner also stated “the world has a debt of gratitude to the neighbouring countries that probably we will never be able to fully pay or to fully express.”
The places pledged involve resettlement and other humanitarian admission schemes, such as humanitarian visas, private sponsorship, family reunification, scholarships, medical evacuation and labour mobility programmes.
For further information:
- UNHCR, Resettlement and Other Forms of Admission for Syrian Refugees, 11 December 2014
- UNHCR, Governments at Geneva meeting agree to take in 100,000 Syrian refugees, 9 December 2014
- Syrian Refugee Resettlement NGO Statement, 9 December 2014
- Al-Jazeera, Countries vow to double Syria refugees intake, 10 December 2014
- The New York Times, More Nations Pledge to U.N. to Resettle Syrian Refugees, 9 December 2014
- The Telegraph, Britain ‘failing to resettle Syria refugees’, 9 December 2014
- Euranet Plus, EU countries asked to accept more Syrian refugees, 9 December 2014
- Reuters, Rich countries urged to take 5 percent of Syrian refugees, 8 December 2014
- ECRE, Press Release, Humanitarian & human rights agencies urge governments to resettle 5% refugees from Syria by end of 2015, 8 December 2014
- ECRE and coalition of 30 international organisations, Joint Agency Briefing Paper: Resettlement of refugees from Syria, 8 December 2014
- ECRE, Press Release, 9 December Resettlement Conference: Europe’s Chance to Give Hope to Syria’s Refugees, 20 November 2014