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.

Via UNHCR,

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.

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On implementing EU-Turkey agreement

On China hosting refugees

Over at Foreign Policy, Liang Pan just posted a great overview on why China isn’t hosting Syrian refugees

China almost certainly will not adopt a refugee resettlement plan that will help relieve the heavy burden faced by the other developing countries in the region currently overwhelmed by the influx. China lacks the institutions conducive to supporting immigration on a mass scale. Although it ratified the UN’s Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1982, the country still lacks related national institutions. It was only in 2012 that China adopted a revised Entry-Exit Administration Law that allows public security authorities to issue identity certificates to refugees and refugee status applicants. According to an August 2015 UNHCR fact sheet, the Chinese government does not provide assistance to refugees in China.

Then there’s the Chinese “green card,” which provides only a “narrow path to residency,” according to a memo by Melissa Lefkowitz, a program officer at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at the New York University School of Law. China’s official statistics show that, as of 2013, only 7,300 among 600,000-plus foreigners living in China had permanent residence. (In 2013 alone, almost a million people became permanent residents in the United States.) Naturalization is extremely rare.

Issues of political ideology, public support, religion, economics and culture are discussed further in the piece. [Links in original text]

On cities

David Miliband, writing in the Guardian, asks why no one is talking about cities —

In all the many column inches on the European refugee crisis, one point has barely received a mention: the overwhelming majority of Syrian refugees are not in refugee camps. Rows of white tents in an otherwise sparse landscape are often featured in the media, but the reality is that 80% of Syrian refugees have sought refuge outside of camps, and the majority of these are living in urban areas – whether in “informal tented settlements”, rented rooms, or half-finished buildings.

He goes on to note the potential shift this means —

The challenges for humanitarians are huge. Outside the physical confines of a camp, refugees can melt away, almost invisible and dispersed amongst the urban population. This complicates the tasks of registering, providing services, disseminating information, and ensuring refugees are aware of their rights, and able to access assistance should they experience exploitation or abuse.

Humanitarians must change too, and tailor their responses to the urban environment. Whereas in a refugee camp, almost everything must be brought in from elsewhere and a micro-society built from scratch, in urban areas, refugees’ needs can be met in ways that support existing systems and contribute to longer-term development goals – benefitting the whole population: host and refugee.

Humanitarian programmes have the potential to make the difference between dependency and development. For example, providing refugees with cash rather than in-kind goods, so they can stimulate the local economy by buying what they need. Or making sure that refugees can access education and work – critical both for contributing locally, and for rebuilding the society on their return home. Or supporting municipal authorities to provide housing for refugees, thus contributing to longer-term sustainable urban development while avoiding the creation of expensive camps.

Related: IRC’s 10 urban planning principles every humanitarian should know

On interviews

A recap of a selection mission held in Turkey for Syrian refugees run by UDI, IMDi, and PST: via Marianne Virik at TV2

Det er nå over fire millioner syriske krigsflyktninger i Syrias naboland. I år og de neste to årene har Norge bestemt at 8000 kvoteflyktninger skal komme herfra.

Familier med barn
På et hotell i Tyrkias hovedstad Ankara har norske UDI gjort alt klart for å intervjue over 200 syriske flyktninger. […]

Alle som er her står på en liste over flyktninger som FN mener har et stort behov for beskyttelse. Norge velger ut i fra en rekke kriterier de mener skal vektlegges.

– Vi legger på vekt på at vi vil hente så mange barnefamilier som mulig, og så mange sårbare kvinner som mulig, og så er det veldig viktig for oss ikke å ta personer som har vært involvert i konflikten på noen av sidene, sier Janne, seniorrådgiver i UDI. […]

– Det er viktig at det norske samfunnet vet at vi gjør vårt aller beste for å forsikre oss om at det kun er flyktninger med behov for beskyttelse, som kommer til norge, forklarer politioverbetjent Svein Erik Molstad i PST.