Resettlement is a sometimes unrecognized yet compelling instrument and symbol of international solidarity and burden sharing to find a durable solution for refugees who are unable to return to their country of origin for fear of continued persecution and do not have the option to stay in their country of asylum.
For more than 60 years, IOM has played a vital role in refugee resettlement around the world.
IOM fosters refugee integration through comprehensive resettlement services in line with resettlement's contribution, as a humanitarian and protection tool, to global migration governance. Article 1 of the IOM constitution mandates the Organization to ”… concern itself with the organized transfer of refugees, displaced persons and other individuals in need of international migration services for whom arrangements may be made between the Organization and States concerned”.
IOM therefore works closely with governments, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), non-governmental organizations and other partners to help refugees in need. In the last decade alone, IOM has organized resettlement movements for 892,243 refugees from 186 locations around the world.
IOM provides the following resettlement services upon the request of governments: case processing; health assessments and travel health assistance; pre-departure orientation/integration and movement and travel operations.
Pre-departure orientation programmes prepare refugees by providing practical information on the country of resettlement, and assist refugees in setting realistic goals and developing the skills and attitudes needed to succeed in their new environment. Answering the questions that refugees may have before entering this new stage of their life helps to reduce anxiety and to avoid disappointment. Cultural orientation programmes therefore benefit both the refugees as well as the receiving communities and authorities. IOM works closely together with governments, local authorities and reception and integration actors from resettlement countries to identify the key priority messages and values that are critical for the refugees’ successful resettlement.
IOM often uses bi-cultural or cross-cultural trainers in the pre-departure cultural orientation. Working with multi-lingual, multi-ethnic trainers increases the ability of IOM to help refugees anticipate integration challenges and facilitate their transition into the receiving society.
In the pre-departure assistance phase pre-departure refugee health assessments will also be carried out to ensure that people travel in a safe and dignified manner, are fit to travel, that they receive appropriate assistance when required; and that they do not pose a risk towards other travellers or the receiving communities. Refugees are a particularly vulnerable population, with health profiles that vary according to their displacement experience, pre-existing health conditions and epidemiologic profiles. Health assessments of refugees admitted for resettlement are carried out and funded at the request of resettlement countries. IOM has long-standing experience in carrying out health assessments in the context of refugee resettlement. It includes an assessment of conditions of public health significance, pre-departure treatments (for example TB) and referrals (including pre-travel hospital stabilization), pre-and post-test counselling, fit to travel assessments and medical escorts when required.
When resettled refugees need to travel a few elements need to be taken into consideration. Firstly, travel documents need to be obtained, and are usually provided by the country of resettlement through their embassies and consulates. Depending on the country where the refugees to be resettled are currently staying and/or transiting through, exit permits and transit visas are also required. At major airports, transit assistance is provided to ensure that refugees take the correct connecting flights. Transit staff also notify receiving authorities in cases of flights that are delayed or changed. As refugees are typically novice travellers and often travel in groups, transportation and passenger handling at embarkation, transit and arrival airports is organized on their behalf. This includes assistance with check-in, customs and immigration formalities, and with transit and arrival assistance. In order to help refugees with special needs, and to monitor and attend to medical requirements en route, it is necessary to liaise with flight staff and other authorities to ensure that vulnerable persons travel in a safe and dignified manner, with operational and medical escorts on hand.
For more information on the resettlement process, click here.
European Resettlement Network
In March 2012, IOM, UNHCR and ICMC formalised ongoing practical cooperation on resettlement via the launch of the European Resettlement Network (ERN) and its central website www.resettlement.eu
The European Resettlement Network is an inclusive network that supports the development of resettlement in Europe by connecting a variety of actors involved in refugee resettlement. Network members have a shared commitment to refugee resettlement and refugee protection, to ensuring the provision of durable solutions for refugees, and to ensuring refugees resettled to Europe receive integration support that provides them with the tools to become fully participating citizens. The Network was officially launched at the EU Resettlement Skills Share day in May 2012, and has since been coordinated through the joint efforts of IOM, UNHCR and ICMC.
The EU Resettlement Network provides a platform to exchange information and expertise on resettlement priorities, processes and practices. It offers support, resources and solutions to actors seeking to start, expand or improve resettlement programmes.
For more information on the objectives and activities of the European Resettlement Network or to become a member you can visit the EU Resettlement Network website.
IOM will continue to support EU member states in their efforts to set up and further develop national resettlement programmes and has pledged its support to the European Asylum Support office (EASO) which has been mandated to support practical cooperation on resettlement activities at the EU level. IOM is an active member of the EASO Consultative Forum.