ICMC urges States to offer additional resettlement places for Syrian refugees
Geneva, 8 December 2014 - The International Catholic Migration Commission, together with other NGOs, calls upon States to make commitments towards additional resettlement places for Syrian refugees. At the ministerial-level pledging conference on Syrian refugee resettlement and other forms of humanitarian admission, which will be held tomorrow at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, States worldwide will have the opportunity to offer a substantial number of new and additional resettlement places or other forms of admission, either in the framework of national quotas or by means of ad hoc commitments.
Last week, ICMC – together with Amnesty International, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, the International Rescue Committee, the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and Save the Children- addressed an open letter to the European Union and EU States urging them to seize the opportunity of the conference to make meaningful pledges to resettle and admit more Syrian refugees, so that more people can rebuild their lives in Europe in safety and dignity.
The particular role of EU Member States in contributing to global resettlement efforts was also highlighted during the European Resettlement Network conference held in Brussels on 21 and 22 November 2014. The event, organised jointly by UNHCR, IOM and ICMC, provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss both past achievements and future EU resettlement objectives and priorities, while also considering the new admission mechanisms developed as part of the response to the Syrian refugee crisis.
ICMC commends the enormous efforts of Syria’s neighbour countries in opening their doors and accepting refugees from Syria. Today, despite significant efforts made by the international community, including a large number of NGOs in the region, neighbour countries’ capacities to host additional refugees are overstretched. There is a pressing need for solidarity and to make more resettlement places available for Syrians currently staying in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and Irak.
Some States, such as Sweden and Germany, have already made important contributions to addressing part of the resettlement needs. ICMC strongly encourages all governments to offer new places for Syrian refugees, either in the form of resettlement or humanitarian admission. In order to ensure that resettlement opportunities also continue to be available for non-Syrian refugees, ICMC encourages States to make commitments in addition to their current resettlement quotas.
ICMC not only advocates for additional resettlement places for Syrian refugees, but is also ready to support governments and UNHCR in expanding current operational activities that respond to the resettlement needs of a higher number of refugees.
In times of unprecedented migratory pressures and increasing protection needs, ICMC calls for more solidarity among States and towards countries of first-asylum, and reminds States about their responsibility to offer protection and legal access opportunities to people fleeing conflicts.
While increased resettlement and humanitarian admission are part of the solution, a broader mix of responses are needed, including more generous access to asylum and increased funding for assistance on the ground for refugees who can’t leave the region.
A generation ago, the world put a mix of responses together in a “Comprehensive Plan of Action” to offer practical solutions to hundreds of thousands of refugees in Indochina. Governments, international organisations and civil society should come together again with the same sense of co-responsibility and commitment today.
Ultimately only a political solution in Syria will solve the refugee crisis, a solution that puts human dignity and deep aspirations for peace at the centre of all actions.
ICMC has been working on refugee resettlement since it was founded in 1951. Through its Resettlement Support Centre for Turkey and Middle East based in Istanbul, ICMC accompanies refugees in their resettlement process to the USA. In addition, ICMC provides expert capacity through the ICMC- UNHCR Resettlement Deployment Scheme, which lists more than 300 qualified resettlement specialists ready to be instantly dispatched to UNHCR field offices when crucial support is needed.