United Nations, June 14 (IANS) The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said around 1.19 million persons will need resettlement in 2017.
“With a multitude of conflicts and crises causing record displacement around the world, resettlement has become an increasingly vital part of UNHCR’s efforts to find solutions and advocate for fairer responsibility-sharing for refugees,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.
“Despite increased resettlement quotas from some countries, the number of people in need of resettlement far surpasses the opportunities for placement in a third country,” Xinhua news agency quoted Dujarric as saying.
In 2017, Syrians are projected to account for 40 percent of needs, followed by Sudan, Afghanistan and Congo, he added.
UNHCR also reported that 2015 was a record year for submissions which reached 134,044, up 29 percent from the previous year. In 2015, the US accepted 62 percent of all submissions, followed by Canada, Australia, Norway and Britain.
According to the Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2017, the agency resettled more than one million refugees in more than 30 resettlement countries in the past decade.
The number of people in need of resettlement in 2017 will likely represent an increase of 72 percent on the projected needs of 691,000 in 2014, before the large-scale resettlement of Syrians began.
“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,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.
“But much more needs to be done to keep pace with the growing numbers of acutely vulnerable.”
UNHCR expects to submit 170,000 refugees for resettlement next year, an increase from a current target of some 143,000 in 2016 and more than 100,000 in each of 2015 and 2014.
“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,” Grandi said.
UNHCR estimates more than one million are in need of resettlement because they are unable to return home or integrate into host countries for a variety of reasons.
The Syrian crisis marked a major shift in the focus of resettlement. By 2014, Syrians were the largest group referred for resettlement and, by 2015, an average two out of every five submissions were Syrians compared to one out of five in 2014.
In 2015, Syria accounted for 53,305 submissions, followed by Congo’s 20,527, Iraq’s 11,161, Somalia’s 10,193 and Myanmar’s 9,738. These five countries made up almost 80 percent of submissions that year.
UNHCR is also focusing on how complementary paths such as humanitarian visas, family reunions and scholarships could help bridge the need gaps.
The report was released on the first day of the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement, a gathering of representatives from UNHCR, resettlement countries and non-governmental organiSations.
UNHCR is a UN programme mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. The Geneva-based UN agency is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
The UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, once in 1954 and again in 1981.