World Refugee Day
Refugee resettlement: A practical solution saving lives
World Refugee Day
GENEVA, 20 June 2012—On World Refugee Day 2012, it is good to celebrate the solution of refugee resettlement, a solution that systematically saves nearly a hundred thousand lives each year. A solution that reunites families, that restores hope and dignity to human beings threatened and persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinions. A solution that enables refugees to restart their lives in a country that formally welcomes them to safety and new life.
As Pope Benedict XVI has said, “their suffering pleads with individual states and the international community (…) to make provisions for concrete solidarity also through appropriate structures for hospitality and resettlement programmes.” (Pope’s Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2012.) Last year, 80,000 refugees who had neither the possibility to return to their own countries nor stay in the country to which they had fled were welcomed for resettlement in another country.
Among those being saved is a 17 year-old boy (name withheld) from western Ethiopia, who received word just last month that he is one of 860 refugees accepted for resettlement out of a refugee camp in Tunisia. Three years ago, in circumstances not unusual for refugees, his father—who worked as a driver—had been taken away in the night for dubious reasons and thrown into prison, where he died within months. His mother died shortly afterwards; then the boy and his sister were imprisoned by police asking about their father. Released, they paid smugglers to help them escape first to Sudan, then to Libya. His sister died as they crossed the Sahara. Now on his way to resettle in Denmark, he hopes someday to be reunited with his younger siblings.
In partnership with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), ICMC experts work in camps and cities worldwide to identify refugees, including children like these, for whom resettlement is the only solution possible. With US funding, ICMC assisted more than 7,000 refugees in 2011 to obtain approval to resettle in the US, mainly Iraqi refugees. Globally, ICMC experts referred another 45,500 refugees for future resettlement.
Among the reasons to celebrate this year:
It is important also to reinforce efforts worldwide so that this life-saving solution continues to be practical and available to those who need it. Cause for concern:
Increasing resettlement opportunities is precisely the aim of the “Resettlement saves lives 2020 campaign”, recently launched to help 20,000 refugees start a new life in Europe each year by 2020, up from 5,500 per year currently. (See http://www.resettlement.eu/page/resettlement-saves-lives-2020-campaign)
A resettlement system that provides protection from persecution, that saves lives, is worth celebrating—and strengthening. Working closely with the refugees themselves, communities, cities, countries and international agencies build this solution together.
For more information, please contact:
ICMC Communications Desk