On pathways for admission of Syrian Refugees

A one-day, high-level meeting on global responsibility sharing through pathways for admission of Syrian refugees was held 30 March 2016 in Geneva .

The meeting was bookended by the 4 February 2016 Supporting Syria conference in London, the 23-24 May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, and the 19 September 2016 Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants in New York.


The focus of the March 30 conference is the need for expanded, multi-year programmes of resettlement and other forms of humanitarian admission, including involving countries that till now have not been involved in such initiatives.

Resettlement is not the only aim. Other such pathways include humanitarian transfer or visas, private sponsorship, medical evacuation, family reunion, academic scholarship, and apprenticeships or labour schemes. The event will also showcase innovative approaches, new partnerships, and successful case studies, and is an opportunity for governments around the world to be part of finding solutions for Syrian refugees.

The meeting will be attended by representatives of some 92 countries, 10 inter- governmental organizations, nine UN agencies and 24 non-government organizations. Speakers will include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Grandi, together with representatives from key refugee-hosting governments.

Some pledges of additional resettlement and other humanitarian admission places are expected to be announced on Wednesday. However, given today’s complex international context and with Syria’s conflict continuing, additional places will be needed over the coming months and years, in particular to address the needs of the most vulnerable refugees and to relieve pressure on Syria’s neighbours. In line with refugee situations elsewhere, UNHCR estimates that as many as 10 per cent of Syria’s 4.8 million refugees fall into this category, and that well over 450,000 places will be needed before the end of 2018.


On conferences: The European refugee situation and the role of civil society

Norsk Folkehjelp hosted a conference on The European Refugee Situation and the Role of Civil Society on 8 December.

The presentations themselves were interesting, but the most memorable point was a brief exchange during a question from the audience: After Vigdis Vevstad’s presentation situating the current legal (and, to some degree, political) situation, a woman (who sadly didn’t introduce herself) expressed great surprise at the recent changes to the Norwegian immigration law: at how quickly, and quietly from all corners of society!, the changes were adopted. They went as far as to guess that this was the quickest change in Norwegian law since WWII. Whether true or not, I’m certainly curious to dig a bit deeper there.

On international resettlement conferences

From Reuters: U.N. to hold March summit to resettle, place millions of Syrians

He [Ban Ki-moon] said the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees would convene a conference in March to win pledges from countries to resettle or help place those who have been displaced due to the Syria conflict.


He said he would also hold a high-level summit on managing large-scale movements of migrants and refugees one day before the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York in September.

See also the remarks from HC Guterres at the Plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly “Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin with specific emphasis on Syrian asylum seekers” on 20 November 2015,

We need to provide those fleeing the Syria crises  and others uprooted by conflicts that are no less violent but far less visible  safe, legal alternatives to the chaotic and dangerous smuggling routes they are forced to take today in order to reach safety.

This means more resettlement and humanitarian admission, more flexible visa arrangements, more private sponsorship programmes and other possibilities. Many efforts have been made in this regard, and I very much welcome all the recent announcements by governments that have underlined the importance of this element in addressing the global crisis. But much more is needed, and so UNHCR will be convening a “High Level Meeting on Global Responsibility-Sharing and Other Forms of Admission for Syrian Refugees” early next year, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to mobilize significant additional commitments.

(emphasis added in all quotes)

update: UNHCR Events: Pathways for admission of Syrian Refugees; High-level meeting on global responsibility sharing through pathways for admission of Syrian refugees, to be held at Palais des Nations, Geneva Switzerland 30 March 2016: concept note | background note | provisional agenda

also see: Focusing on Protection: Previewing Upcoming High-Level Fora on Migration via MPI

On conferences: PREMIG

On 20-21 August 2015, I attended the final conference of PREMIG: Thinking about going ‘home’: engaging with scenarios of return migration held at PRIO.

From the conference page,

The possibility of one day returning to one’s country of origin is a fact of life for international migrants. Some live in fear of deportation; others have a dream about retiring in their native country. This conference addresses the different ways in which migrants think, feel, and act upon the possibility of return.

The conference is organized on the occasion that the project Possibilities and Realities of Return Migration (PREMIG) is entering its final stages. The project is led by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and funded by the Research Council of Norway.

On meetings: EMN on Resettlement; Regional Solutions and Humanitarian Assistance

On 12 June 2015, I attended the EMN National conference in Norway on Resettlement; Regional Solutions and Humanitarian Assistance.

The conference was organised by the Norwegian European Migration Network National Contact Point (NO EMN NCP), consisting of the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Directorate of Immigration (UDI), in collaboration with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

The conference final report can be found here.