On 5 May, local time, UNHCR and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a report entitled “Safe Pathways for Refugees II”. In the decade leading up to the outbreak, 35 OECD countries and Brazil hosted 1.5 million people from major refugee-flowing countries with family, work and study permits, according to a new report.
The report reviews refugee admissions from seven countries: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Venezuela between 2010 and 2019. Of the 1.5 million non-humanitarian permits issued to help refugees in these countries over a decade, 156,000 were issued in 2019 alone, exceeding the target of 120,000 a year set by governments, civil society organizations and UNHCR’s Global Resettlement and Supplementary Pathways Strategy, the report said.
Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s head of international protection, said: ‘We are pleased with the tremendous efforts that many countries have made to take in refugees through these additional and safe routes. These efforts have brought displaced families back together and given refugees the opportunity to use their talents, skills and expertise to rebuild their lives and give back to their new communities.
Although data for 2020 have not yet been compiled, the two agencies expect that the number of refugees admitted during this period will be significantly reduced as a result of border closures and travel restrictions imposed in response to the new corona pneumonia pandemic. ‘We must not allow the outbreak to impede the extraordinary progress that has been made in refugee admissions, ‘ Mr. Triggs said. While stronger and longer-term forms of law cannot be provided for resettlement and humanitarian acceptance, they are safe and orderly forms of admission that can save lives and benefit many refugees.
During the 10 years covered by the report, OECD countries and Brazil received 4 million new asylum applications. More than 2 million people have been identified as refugees or received supplementary forms of protection, and 572,000 have been admitted through refugee resettlement schemes. Developing and least developed countries host 85 per cent of the world’s 26 million refugees, and one of the main objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees is to increase resettlement and additional access to better protect those forced to flee and to provide support to host countries.
In a spirit of global shared responsibility, UNHCR urged more countries to resettle refugees, increase additional access and reduce barriers to entry, including documentation requirements, access to embassies and consulates in countries of destination, related application and travel fees and information assistance.
UNHCR also noted that while family reunification procedures are available in most countries, administrative and financial barriers limit their implementation. Many refugees are unable to reunite with their families through safe and legal means, often crossing international borders by dangerous land and sea.