To protect the world's most vulnerable refugees, EU Member States need to agree on at least 20 places for quota refugees by the year 000, writes Leah Odongo-Ogesare, from the Lutheran World Federation in Kenya, among others.
According to a calculation as the Church Commission for Migrants in Europe (Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe, CCME) in April 2012, the goal for the 28 Member States should be to offer at least 20 resettlement places in the EU by 000. These places should be offered in addition to the places that may be created for the relocation of refugees within the EU. and is seen as an obvious complement to the right of asylum.
In 2012 - at the same time as a British survey establishes that Norway, Denmark and Sweden are the world's best countries to live in - millions of people around the world are forced to flee war, unrest and oppression. The vast majority seek protection and help in neighboring countries while waiting for the situation in their home country to improve. They want the opportunity to return. Some leave family and friends through resettlement organized by the UN in a third country, such as Sweden. Resettlement of refugees offers long-term protection for the world's most vulnerable refugees.
While up to 80 refugees are offered resettlement annually through the UN refugee agency UNHCR, tens of thousands of the most vulnerable refugees remain in miserable conditions. The need for increased refugee quotas is significantly greater than the supply. A clear example is the world's largest refugee camp Dadaab in Kenya, with about 500 inhabitants, the majority of whom come from Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. Dadaab was originally built for 000 people when the conflict in Somalia broke out in 1991. The already overcrowded refugee camp received nearly 160 new refugees last year due to the drought in the Horn of Africa as well as the armed conflict in Somalia that caused a major famine in the region.
Europe is one of the richest regions in the world. The EU's commitment to protecting refugees therefore needs to be broadened, including solidarity with those refugees who never reach Europe and with countries outside Europe that have received a large number of refugees. The EU's asylum policy needs to be complemented by a significant program for the resettlement of refugees to the EU.
We already know that this is possible when the will is there. In 2008, a joint resettlement of 10 people from Iraq was carried out following a decision by the Council of Ministers. This effort showed that EU Member States are fully capable of receiving more refugees into the EU, especially when they act in a coordinated manner.
The coming years will be crucial if the EU's commitment to the resettlement and integration of refugees is to go from word to deed. We therefore urge you as members of European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to work for at least 20 places for resettlement by the year 000.
Leah Odongo-Ogesare and
The organizers behind the Churches' Global Week:
Karin Wiborn, Secretary General Sweden's Christian Council
Eva-Christina Nilsson, Secretary General Swedish Mission Council
Anders Wejryd, Archbishop, Swedish Church
Sofia Walan, Secretary General Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation
Niclas Lindgren, director PMU
Annika Damirjian, Secretary General Swedish Ecumenical Women's Council
Lasse Svensson, church leader Common future
Peter K Sjögren, director Life & Peace Institute
Ann-Katrin Persson, Federal Rector Sensus Study Association
Kerstin Enlund, Rector Study association Bilda
Johan Berkman, union chairman Young people of the Church of Sweden
Selection and organized relocation of refugees through the UN is called resettlement or quota refugees. Every year, the Government / Riksdag allocates funds for the Swedish Migration Board to be able to transfer approximately 1-700 quota refugees to Sweden. Today, about 1 countries receive so-called quota refugees on an annual basis.
Read more in the Swedish Migration Agency's leaflet on quota refugees
Also read what Amnesty International writes about resettlement
Folder from UNHCR on resettlement
Church Commission for Migrants in Europe
The call in the debate article is part of a European campaign initiated by the Church's Commission on Migrants in Europe. Amnesty has also backed the call. Background about the call in English or in Swedish.