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 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 humanitarian visas

Sam Cowie at IRIN discusses Brazil’s use of humanitarian visas —

Until recently, Haitians escaping their homeland after the utter devastation of the 2010 earthquake took hazardous overland routes through South America in the hope of finding a better life in Brazil, often putting their lives in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers. Now, it’s simple: they walk into an office in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince and apply for a humanitarian visa. No need for smugglers or sneaking across borders.

Brazil has introduced a similar system for Syrian refugees who can apply for special visas at Brazilian consulates in the Middle East. The visas facilitate their travel to Brazil. After arriving, they can register asylum claims. So far, 8,000 Syrians have been granted the visas.