Report: EU states must improve expertise sharing on refugee resettlement

Refugee resettlement challenges
Afghan refugees, Canal Saint Martin, Paris. Courtesy Evan Bench.

European countries must adopt a more strategic approach when offering support to one another for refugee resettlement if they hope to meet ambitious EU goals, the Migration Policy Institute Europe argues in a new report.

Sharing gaps

MPI Europe researchers interviewed national officials from across the European Union—as well as those from the United States and Canada, where authorities have significant experience with refugee resettlement—and found multiple weaknesses in their efforts to share expertise. According to the researchers, their projects often had no defined goals or way of measuring success, and little attention was paid to whether individual participants were well matched.

The report, Scaling up Refugee Resettlement in Europe: The role of institutional peer support, argues that when starting out or expanding resettlement programmes, governments are dependent on support from other countries—whether through email exchanges or conversations at the side of meetings, or formal conferences and study visits.

Well-designed peer-support projects ‘can motivate countries to increase resettlement and share vital information, help peers translate theory into practice, build positive relationships and inspire innovation within resettlement systems’, write authors Hanne Beirens and Aliyyah Ahad.

Also, according to MPI, joint activities or EU infrastructure will help to reduce the costs of resettlement for EU countries and enable them to take in more refugees,  the latter fitting within a strategy to better manage migration flows to Europe.

Expertise differences

This is particularly needed in Europe, says MPI, where the EU Commission has proposed resettling 50,000 more refugees over the next two years in addition to the 25,000 already taken in, despite a gulf in expertise and experience between Member States. Countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Sweden and Germany have already resettled thousands of people; but Slovenia, Croatia, Poland and Hungary, among others, are yet to take refugees under EU-level schemes.

‘This is thus a critical moment to examine whether, how and under what circumstances peer support is proving successful in helping Member States establish or expand their resettlement programmes’, argue the MPI Europe researchers.

The report, commissioned as part of the European Union Action on Facilitating Resettlement and Refugee Admission through New Knowledge (EU-FRANK) project, can be read here.

The EU-FRANK project is financed by the European Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and led by Sweden. Belgium, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland are partner countries.

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