Panel 3 – Resettlement and other forms of admission to Europe: analysis of current policies and future opportunities

Proponents: Milena Belloni, PhD in Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento; Emanuela Paoletti, Research Associate at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University

[versione italiana]

Resettlement represents, together with repatriation and local integration in the first country of asylum, one of the durable solutions that the international community has pursued to address the increasingly complex predicament of refugees and asylum seekers across the world (Chimni, 1999; Long, 2015). However, only a small percentage of refugees (normally about 1% globally, UNHCR, 2014) has access to resettlement. This is partly because few industrialised countries support the resettlement programme sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Furthermore, other opportunities for mobility, endorsed by UNHCR and the international community, such as humanitarian admission, private sponsorship, scholarships for students, humanitarian visas, family reunifications, medical evacuations and work placement programmes (UNHCR, 2015) remain ad hoc and limited in scale. In particular, resettlement slots offered by European countries are modest vis-à-vis those made available by countries such as the United States or Canada that accept thousands of refugees from camps in, for example, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Kenya. While the number of refugees resettled to Europe over the last few years remains scant, the influx of persons seeking protection from Asia and Africa to Europe has significantly increased and so has the number of those recognised as refugees in Europe. This leads us to question whether resettlement and other forms of admission could represent a less onerous alternative economically and in terms of human toll. The humanitarian operations of Mare Nostrum are a glaring example of how costly existing policy responses can be. Against this background, the panel intends to investigate the extent to which an expansion of resettlement and other forms of admissions of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe could improve European asylum policies. The panel aims to present a selection of case studies in a comparative approach.

In particular, we invite contributions addressing the following issues: is there a connection between the limited implementation of resettlement measures and the significant flow of asylum seekers to Europe? How can we explain the embryonic status of resettlement policies in Europe and the limited mobility channels available to refugees and asylum seekers? How do resettlement policies in Europe affect the protection space in North African countries and vice-versa? What are the problems related to the present resettlement programmes for refugees, asylum seekers and local populations in the first country of asylum and in the destination? What are the criteria used to select refugees eligible for resettlement to third countries? How long does the process take and how is the waiting period experienced by the applicants? What consequences may group resettlement have (i.e. pull effects for prospective refugees who have not left their country yet)?What are the obstacles and opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers’ to access other admission schemes?

This panel aims to attract studies which investigate resettlement and other forms of admissions from the point of view of researchers, policy-makers, social workers (i.e. NGOs, local associations, international organisations etc.)and refugees themselves, who are waiting for resettlement in camps or those who have already been resettled and can reflect upon their experience. We especially welcome contributions based on field research and first-hand experience, which discuss the complexities of resettlement and other forms of admissions and reflect on opportunities and challenges that a wider use of resettlement and other admission forms in Europe may lead to.

Call for presentations