The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says less than five percent of refugees in urgent need of resettlement last year were moved to safety. The agency has repeated a call for governments around the world to offer more resettlement opportunities.
In 2019, more than 1.4 million people worldwide were in "urgent need" of resettlement, the UNHCR says. However, only 63,696 (4.5%) of those were resettled.
While the number or refugees resettled by the UN has increased slightly compared with 2018, the UNHCR said a huge gap remains between the number of places needed and those made available by governments.
"Resettlement is not a solution for all refugees but it is a life-saving measure to ensure the protection of those most at risk and whose lives often depend on it," Grainne O’Hara, UNHCR’s Director of International Protection, said in a press statement.
Most resettled from Syria
Most of the refugees successfully resettled by the UNHCR last year were Syrians, followed by people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The United States provided more resettlement places than any other country (21,159), followed by Canada (9,040), the United Kingdom (5,774), Sweden (4,953) and Germany 4,622).
According to the UNHCR’s latest figures, there are more than 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. More than 40 million have been displaced within their own country. 80% of refugees live in countries neighboring their countries of origin.
Refugees are considered for UN resettlement if they have specific needs or if their safety is at risk in their country of origin and in neighboring countries.
UN worries resettled number will fall
The UNHCR estimates that in 2020, around 1.44 million refugees, the majority from Africa, will need resettlement. But need is expected to continue to far outstrip demand for resettlement places. A three-year strategy launched by the UNHCR last year set a target of 60,000 resettlements to 29 states in 2019. While this goal has been achieved, the UN says it is worried that fewer refugees will be resettled this year.
The UNHCR wants to increase refugee resettlement opportunities and other legal and regular pathways for forcibly displaced people to move to safe places, such as through family reunification, work and study routes. In 2020, its goal is for 31 countries to resettle as many as 70,000 refugees. To achieve its objectives, UNHCR and the UN migration agency, IOM, say they need governments to provide financial support of €18 million.