This EMN study ‘Resettlement and Humanitarian Admission Programmes in Europe – what works?’ is based on contributions from EMN National Contact Points in 24 Member States, collected via a common template to ensure comparability. The key findings are set out below:
- 17 Member States and Norway have in place resettlement or humanitarian admission programmes or schemes, or have had them in the past, while six countries do not (yet) have experience with resettlement or humanitarian admission. Increased migration flows in 2015 were followed by several legislative and policy changes in 2015 and 2016 at Member State and EU-level, including rules on resettled/admitted persons.
- In the EU context, resettlement is the transfer of a third country national or stateless person, on request from UNHCR and based on the need for international protection, from a third country to a Member State where they are permitted to reside with refugee status or a similar status. Humanitarian admission is not defined. However, in the context of this study it refers to schemes which are similar to resettlement, but for varying reasons do not fully adhere to the definition of resettlement.
- While the main objectives of such schemes are similar, their main characteristics vary substantially among (Member) States on the type of scheme/programme, the existence of predefined quota and selection priorities, and methods of approach to carrying out and implementing resettlement and humanitarian admission activities.
- The UNHCR has a clear role in identifying and interviewing candidates for resettlement, while Member States’ authorities take the final decision on resettlement after selection missions. Dossier selection is also widely used, especially for humanitarian admission. Identification and selection involves the use of criteria for eligibility and prioritisation and exclusion or deprioritisation of candidates.
- The pre-departure phase and transfer often involve the IOM and includes preparation to travel, medical checks and sometimes cultural orientation training or workshops. In 12 Member States, there are some specific post- arrival and integration measures or practices for resettled/admitted persons compared to other refugees.
- The majority of Member States grant the same or a similar status to both resettled refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection. Some humanitarian admission programmes envisage return to the country of origin and initially grant stay of up to two years, though in certain circumstances such stays can be extended, and indefinite stay is ultimately possible.
- Member States’ rules and approaches vary regarding accommodation, geographical distribution and integration measures provided to the resettled/admitted individual.
- Although only six Member States have implemented formal private sponsorship programmes or schemes, several other Member States are interested in developing such programmes.
- The players involved in implementing resettlement and humanitarian admission schemes faced several challenges, resulting in numerous improvements, and identification of good practices.
The main reported sources of information on challenges and good practices were reports on programme implementation within the framework of evaluations of EU funds. In some cases evaluations took place through surveys distributed to the beneficiaries of resettlement/humanitarian admission schemes, or reports prepared by the organisations involved.
Challenges faced by actors of resettlement/humanitarian admission schemes in the pre-departure and departure phases included:
- Complexity and length of the selection procedure;
- Logistical challenges in third countries;
- Meeting specific needs of target group;
- Lack of or limited pre-departure information and orientation;
- Unrealistic expectations of beneficiaries compared to the conditions after arrival;
- Challenge of coordinating numerous stakeholders in pre-departure and post-arrival phases;
- Difficulty receiving information on potential beneficiaries;
- Lack of travel documents and problems obtaining these;
- Security in the country of residence;
- Limited possibility for obtaining biometric data (fingerprints, photo etc.) of resettled refugees.
Member States and Norway also reported a number of challenges in the post-arrival and integration phase:
- Securing housing for resettled individuals;
- Language learning;
- Time constraints and contingencies of resettlement operations, especially for short-term arrivals;
- Difficulties in ensuring the availability of support services and appropriate staff for vulnerable groups;
- Finding employment and receiving appropriate remuneration;
- Administrative delays in issuing a residence permit.
The following lessons learnt were highlighted, as positive/effective in implementing resettlement or humanitarian admission programmes or schemes:
- Smooth pre-departure and post-arrival collaboration and communication among the different stakeholders, was widely reported as a decisive factor for successful integration, while also saving resources;
- Adequate information and cultural orientation at pre-departure stage to prepare candidates for transfer and manage expectations;
- Selection missions conducted in countries of first asylum help to anticipate arrivals and to quickly grant persons international protection upon arrival;
- Early medical assessment to better prepare for the departure and communicate the relevant information and needs to the actors providing integration services after arrival;
- Direct access to housing may promote independence and the rapid integration of resettled persons;
- Peer support from other refugees in the same ethnic or national group;
- Social involvement of volunteers;
- Engaging local communities/churches in the integration process.