The European Parliament released the following statement on 21 March 2012.
‘European countries will receive more support from the EU to take up refugees under a new joint resettlement programme endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. The programme aims to step up the EU’s role in providing international protection, especially for vulnerable groups such as women at risk and unaccompanied minors, in cooperation with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The programme is to resettle in the EU people who have been granted refugee status in third countries (for example, Libyan refugees in Tunisia). As the host countries are often developing ones, with limited resources, they cannot integrate and protect large numbers of refugees.
According to the UNHCR, over 172,000 people will need to be resettled in 2012, whereas the global number of resettlement places is only about 80,000. In 2010, the EU resettled around 4,700 people, representing only 4.4 percent of those resettled worldwide that year, far behind the US (near 54,000 refugees) and Canada (around 6,700).
The programme’s main aim is to encourage EU Member States to take up refugees by enlarging the list of those whose resettlement will be financed by the European Refugee Fund, such as vulnerable persons (children and women at risk, unaccompanied minors, persons with serious medical needs and, at Parliament’s request, refugees in need of urgent resettlement for legal or physical reasons).
Furthermore, the programme will set a series of geographical priorities on a yearly basis. In 2013, these will cover, among others, Iraqi refugees in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan; Afghan refugees in Turkey, Pakistan and Iran; Congolese refugees in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia or Somali refugees in Ethiopia.’
Member states have until 1 May 2012 to submit the estimated numbers of people they are willing to resettle. Amnesty International has launched a campaign to increase those numbers, urging people to take action by writing to the Danish Presidency of the EU to encourage as many states as possible to take part in the resettlement programme.