In July 2019, the Refugee Council, a charity organisation that works with asylum seekers and refugees, hosted the UK Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the 25th Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) in Geneva, Switzerland. The ATCR is a conference that brings together individuals from more than 20 countries to deliberate on resettlement and assess progress, best practices and ideas to implement. The 2019 edition of the conference had more resettled refugees attending than in previous years, to help gain deeper insights from their personal experiences.
Chief Executive at the Refugee Council Maurice Wren, speaking during the start of the conference, was delighted that the event would have a wealth of perspectives present and that refugees were participating in the planning and delivery of the conference. He noted that by acknowledging refugees’ experiences in the decision-making, the ATCR had better chances of accomplishing its goals.
A Firm Commitment
At the ATCR, the UK Government reaffirmed its commitment to supporting refugees and collaborating with partners to implement long-term solutions. The UK has been a committed player in resettling refugees, having resettled more since 2016 than any other member country of the European Union. This achievement has come from continued commitment and support from both the government and other agencies and non-governmental organisations.
The government’s commitments on refugees are undertaken the Gateway Protection Programme, the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme, and the Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme, all of which end in 2020. The UK Government hopes to deliver successfully on these, and afterwards consolidate them into a global resettlement scheme. With this new scheme, the priority will be to resettle vulnerable refugees as identified by the UNHCR and also expand the focus to other countries beyond North Africa and the Middle East.
The Refugee Council is one of the major players in the resettling of refugees, so the government’s commitment at the conference is one the charity organisation was happy about. Over the years, the Council has seen the tremendous impact that the resettlement programmes have had, and it is particularly encouraged by the collaborative effort shown by various partners. As such, it welcomes the move to consolidate the programmes into a single scheme that it hopes will make it more responsive to global needs.
A key driver for the success of the resettlement programmes is the quality of integration support provided to families and individuals. While acknowledging the support as high quality, the Refugee Council knows that it is invaluable to helping refugees settle in new environments and find their footing again. The charity called on the government to ensure that all refugees, regardless of their entry route into the UK, are accorded the same level of integration support.
At the ATCR, the UNHCR presented a three-year strategy on the topic of resettlement that had been created after collaborating with various other players including the private sector, civil society, refugees, academia, and other UN agencies and states. Consultations with the UK played a key part in the development of the strategy, as did consultation with other countries that play a role in refugee resettlement.
Out of the conference, participants expected a greater awareness of resettlement and its positive impact, not to mention support for the UNHCR’s three-year strategy.
Supporting refugees has been the Refugee Council’s main mission since 1951, working directly with them in providing practical support, counselling and guiding their integration. Additionally, the charity also advocates on refugees’ behalf by using their work as evidence. At the heart of this commitment is a determination to ensure that refugees have a voice and that their experiences are considered when making decisions that affect them. Furthermore, the Refugee Council also collaborates with other partners to ensure the best support possible is provided.
While collaboration has proven successful, the Refugee Council has also ramped up support through the use of media campaigns. The 2005 European refugee crisis necessitated the need of such avenues, with the Council relying on the creative mind of Ajab Samrai, a chief creative officer for more than three decades, to come up with a campaign that sought to explain that not all asylum seekers were economic migrants.