International context

Resettlement is:

  • a protection instrument that meets the specific needs of the refugees whose life, freedom, security, health and other fundamental rights are threatened;
  • a sustainable solution for refugees who cannot return voluntarily to their country of origin nor have perspectives of local integration in the country they have fled to;
  • a solidarity mechanism to relieve the pressure on the countries that receive large numbers of refugees.


In 2018, the Global Compact for Migration set a series of objectives, including the development of access to the resettlement possibilities. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in charge of the programme, organises annual consultations with the governments, the international organisations and NGO's active in the process. In addition to this, each year, UNHCR draws up a report on the projected global resettlement needs.

According to UNHCR, in 2020


refugees will need to be resettled.

The most vulnerable refugee populations are the Syrians, the South Sudanese and the Congolese.

As part of its mandate, UNHCR identifies the refugees who need to be resettled and submits their case to a resettlement country. The preselected refugees are considered vulnerable on the basis of several criteria:

  • In need of legal and/or physical protection
  • Survivors of violence and torture
  • Medical needs
  • Women and girls at risk
  • Family reunification, when resettlement is the only way to reunite the members of a family
  • Children and adolescents at risk
  • Lack of foreseeable alternative durable solutions


European Union

Resettlement is also a cornerstone of the European Union global strategy in terms of asylum and migration. For several years, the European Commission has identified common priorities that focus on geographical areas, nationalities or categories of specific refugees and which offer some flexibility that meets the new or urgent needs.

Between 2017 and 2019, the European Union has committed to resettling 50,000 refugees. The priority goes to the Syrians displaced as a result of the conflict and living in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, as well as to people living in Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Niger, Sudan and Chad and in need of protection due to the situation in the central Mediterranean. The European Union also promotes resettlement via UNHCR’s emergency transit mechanism between Libya and Niger.