Migrants in Hungary near the Serbian border, 2015

Church, civil society groups denounce EU resettles just 1.6% of world’s refugees

A partnership of Church and civil society groups has denounced that the European Union only provides for the resettlement of 1.6% of the 1.4 million refugees around the world in need of a new home.

Driving the news

The group of 24 NGOs, including the Europe branches of the International Catholic Migration Commission and Church charity Caritas, issued a statement Thursday in advance of the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on 17-18 December.

In their statement, the groups called on the EU to better support the Global Compact on Refugees and, in particular, the “protection tool” and “durable solution” that is refugee resettlement.

The refugee resettlement places offered by the international community “continue to decline steeply”, the organisations denounced.

That decline follows cuts of 50% between 2016 and 2017, and a fall of 15% just last year to a paltry 55,680: “a mere 4% of the 1.4 million estimated to be in need”.

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Go deeper

Though the EU Commission called for 50,000 resettlement places to be made available by 31 October 2019, just 37,520 refugees have arrived in Europe under the plan, the Church and civil NGOs said.

Current EU resettlement levels “remain far below the capacity of the EU as a wealthy region and major international humanitarian actor”, they denounced.

Though the organisations welcomed the announcement of 30,000 places to be made available in a follow-up scheme, they said “current trends show a decrease in the number of EU member states resettling, a tendency to prolong implementation periods beyond the original pledging timeframes, and a lack of understanding of resettlement as a protection tool and global responsibility sharing mechanism”.

They called on the EU to buck the trend of developed countries hosting 16% of the world’s refugees and “send a strong signal of international solidarity… in order to remain a credible humanitarian actor”.

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Why it matters

“Inaction is not an option: countries hosting the majority of the world’s refugees are counting on greater support from the EU as they struggle to assist large numbers of refugees with limited resources”, the Church and civil NGOs warned.

They insisted the EU make good on its promise to open 30,000 resettlement places by the end of the calendar year 2020.

“In addition, EU Member States should continue to expand complementary pathways such as humanitarian admission, humanitarian visas, private sponsorship, extended family reunification and higher education scholarships”, the organisations said.

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“Resettlement is a pathway allowing those in need of protection to reach the EU safely, and a significant increase in places could reduce the need for dangerous journeys and contribute to a more equal sharing of responsibility within the EU”, they added.

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