On June 13 the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, the UN refugee agency, released a report projecting that more than 1.19 million people will be in need of resettlement in 2017. The overwhelming number of crises and conflicts around the globe is causing record displacement (up 72% from 691,000 in 2014) and the UNHCR’s report, “UNHCR Projected Resettlement Needs,” provides an outline for the needs of displaced persons, and the targets and initiatives that the international community must adopt to address this humanitarian catastrophe.
The agency has helped over a million refugees resettle in over 30 countries in the past 10 years. However, the report suggests that the refugees’ needs significantly outweighs their existing opportunities for resettlement. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said, “We are seeing resettlement taken to a new level and that enhanced resettlement can be an effective means of sharing the responsibility for refugee protection,” but he also added that resettlement efforts must keep pace with the growing number of displaced persons.
The escalating Syrian crisis has thrust the country into a massive refugee crisis, with its citizens making up the largest group referred for resettlement by 2014; by 2015 two out of every five resettlement submissions were from Syrians. 53,305 Syrians submitted for resettlement in 2015, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 20,527, Iraq’s 11,161, Somalia’s 10,193, and Myanmar’s 9,738.
The UNHCR projects that in 2017 Syrians will account for 40% of resettlement, followed by Sudan with 11%, Afghanistan with 10% and the DRC with 9%. The refugee agency expects a record 170,000 submissions next year.
In 2015, the U.S. accepted 62% of all UNHCR submissions, 82,491, followed by Canada’s 22,886, Australia’s 9,321, Norway’s 3,806 and the UK’s 3,622. Although countries have increased resettlement quotas, the UNHCR asserts that it is not enough to address the extent of the crisis. A major stagnating factor is the national/international security issue of accepting refugees from countries associated with Islamic terrorism. Governments and their populations are concerned that increasing resettlement quotas will open the doors to terrorists.
Regardless, the UNHCR remains optimistic with the projected refugee crisis, hoping to fill additional needs of displaced persons through humanitarian visas, family reunions and scholarships. Commissioner Filippo remarked, “Resettlement is now more important than ever as a solution, and we must grasp this opportunity to increase the number of refugees benefitting from it, as well as other avenues for admission.”