The untamable refugee crisis around the globe continues to be a huge concern for the international community. Though the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR )can be applauded for working tirelessly to protect the basic rights of refugees (food, clothes, health, education etc), the permanent resettlement of refugees into other countries remains a big challenge. Resettlement in refugee studies has been referred to as the relocation of refugees from an asylum country to another State that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grants them permanent settlement. Among all UN organs working in the humanitarian domain, UNHCR has been given the mandate by the 1951 Refugee Convention and the UN General Assembly to consider resettlement as one of the durable refugee solutions.
Is resettlement really a sustainable remedy? Many refugees question how relevant it is, seeing as it takes a lengthy process and only a handful of countries are accepting them. Thousands of refugees live under desperate situations in non-Hague signatory countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, Same Skies reports.
It should be obvious by now to the international community that contributing to resettle refugees can no longer be optional. Reasons why UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi continuous his appeals by saying “Given the record numbers of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution and the lack of political solutions to these situations, we urgently need countries to come forward and resettle more refugees”.
Relating to numbers, the UNHCR has estimated there are 40 per cent of Syrians, 14 per cent of South Sudanese and 11 percent of Congolese from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has to be resettled by 2020. The resettlement need will automatically increase owing to the rising instabilities and displacements in Africa and the Americas into 6 and 22 per cent respectively.
UNHCR reports there are 450,000 refugees in protracted situations in DRC, Central Africa, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan despite the 2018 peace accord. This makes the Horn of Africa and Eastern regions have the highest resettlement needs. Turkey has 420,000 and hosts 3.7 million refugees, the wider Middle East and North Africa region have 250,000 and Central Africa and the Great Lakes region (165,000).
Addressing Member States attending consultations in Geneva on resettlement for refugees, Mr. Grandi emphatically added “With the overwhelming majority, 84 per cent, of the world’s refugees hosted in developing regions facing their own development and economic challenges and whose own populations may live below the poverty line, there simply has to be a more equitable sharing of responsibility for global crises.”
In a bid to provide more vulnerable refugees with a new home in a third country – and amid significantly fewer resettlement opportunities globally in the last two years – UNHCR and partners have unveiled an initiative in support of resettlement and other legal alternatives to enter countries, such as family, work and study routes. These suggestions appear sustainable and should be experimented. It is evident some countries have given deaf ears to resettling refugees in helpless need but UNHCR 2018 reports remarked some outstanding 27 countries globally who accepted 55,700 refugees. For example, the United States took 17,100, Canada accepted 7,700, the United Kingdom welcomed 5,700, France received 5,100, and Sweden agreed to take 4,900.
Though some countries have regulated resettlement to an annual rate with the possibility for refugees to become naturalized citizens, the big question remains why some countries with relatively stable economies unwilling to collaborate in resolving this social phenomenon. Developed countries must partake in sharing this global burden.
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