The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees began a high-level ministerial conference in Geneva Wednesday to discuss ways to resettle around 480,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years (Reuters). UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at the opening of the conference, said the effort required an “exponential increase in global solidarity” (NYT). The conference comes shortly after Oxfam, a nongovernmental group, released a report that found that twenty-eight of the world’s wealthiest countries have resettled just 1.39 percent of Syria’s refugee population, accounting for less than a third of their commitments (Guardian). The Syrian conflict, which began five years ago, has produced nearly five million refugees so far, the vast majority of whom have wound up in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
“Secretary of State John Kerry announced in September that the U.S. plans to accept 100,000 refugees from around the world annually by 2017, up from 85,000 in 2016. While that is a jump in admissions, it pales in comparison with other moments in U.S. history. Take 1980, for example, when admissions reached more than 200,000. At that time, the Refugee Act of 1980 standardized ‘resettlement services for all refugees admitted to the United States,’” writes Priscilla Alvarez for the Atlantic.
“For Turkey, managing the presence of now two million refugees has not been an easy task—even for a country with significant administrative and economic capacity. The greatest and possibly the toughest problem has to do with the long run. What is still lacking is a comprehensive governmental policy towards integration. Burden-sharing is also critical in terms of legitimizing the expenses of the government in the eyes of the Turkish public by showing that caring for the refugees is an international responsibility,” write Elizabeth Ferris and Kemal Kirisci in this Brookings paper.
“Private sponsorship of refugees by individuals, local groups, or faith-based organizations, for example, can bring down costs to the state and accelerate integration outcomes, and has the potential to involve brand-new actors (and sources of finance) in the international protection regime. The innovative use of existing legislation geared towards the mobility of member state nationals under regional cooperation frameworks, meanwhile, offers an alternative approach in countries where traditional protection might be politically sensitive,” write Elizabeth Collett, Paul Clewett, and Susan Fratzke in this report for the Migration Policy Institute.
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