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Executive Summary for March 30th

We review the latest developments on refugee issues, including the high-level conference in Geneva to discuss Syrian refugees, the latest asylum statistics on European acceptance rates and Canada’s success with resettling Syrians fleeing conflict.

Published on March 30, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

One in Ten Syrian Refugees Will Need Resettlement Says U.N.

As the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) opened a high-level conference on Syrian refugees in Geneva today, resettlement was a key topic.

The U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon addressed the participants, urging additional support to meet the needs of over 13.5 million people displaced inside Syria and the 4.8 million refugees, a majority of whom are in neighboring countries.

“Addressing their [the refugees’] plight cannot only be the task of countries and communities that are close to wars. It is a global responsibility that must be widely shared until peace prevails again,” U.N. high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said to the press.

Based on estimates that one in ten Syrian refugees will need resettlement by 2018, UNHCR has called upon countries to take in more refugees for “resettlement, as well as for humanitarian reasons of family reunification, medical treatment or scholarships to complete their studies,” according to a Reuters report.

UNHCR claims that, since 2013, mainly Western countries have offered approximately 179,150 resettlement places to Syrian refugees. Over 450,000 places will be needed before the end of 2018, according to the agency.

Participants at the conference include 92 countries, 14 U.N. agencies and several NGOs.

Latest Asylum Statistics Reveal Increase in Acceptance Rates

Recent European asylum statistics show a 10 percent increase in acceptance rates, which climbed to 60 percent in the final quarter of 2015, the highest rate to date, according to a report by the Economist.

The report also mentions that only a “handful of nationalities” have benefitted from this increase – mainly Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis – who are let in more than 90 percent of the time.

Countries such as Italy fared better than Sweden on the “quality of mercy” index, which is calculated by finding the acceptance rate for each origin and destination pairing and comparing it with the acceptance rates for the rest of Europe.

The report also showed that nationalities with historic ties to the host country were more likely to be accepted.

On the other hand, countries that downplay the “dangers” faced by certain nationalities fared poorly. For example, Britain accepted just 42 percent of the 1,645 Eritreans who applied in the past six months, based on national reports that claim reduced human rights abuses in Eritrea, while the European average was 91 percent.

Canada Sets Example for Countries Discussing Resettlement

Canada’s recent record of resettling over 25,000 refugees in just four months will serve as a successful case for countries attending the high-level meeting on Syrian refugees in Geneva.

Canada’s immigration minister John McCallum, a key speaker at the Geneva conference, will discuss Canada’s latest resettlement efforts, which despite a few bumps managed to bring in “26,000 refugees, including 9,000 who were sponsored by community and faith groups,” according to local reports.

Canada’s private sponsorship program, which involves civilian participation, has garnered international interest as an alternative means to reduce pressure on the government.

In 1979, Canada resettled 60,000 Indochinese refugees under Operation Lifeline, deemed a hugely successful operation that should inspire the country’s current resettlement process, national media outlets report.

Recommended Reads

Top image: A child navigates through rubble and barbed wire in Aleppo, Syria. (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP, File)

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