Globally, UNHCR estimates that there are more than 43 million people forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution. Of these, approximately 10.4 million are refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, and for whom UNHCR is actively seeking solutions.
Some refugees cannot go home or are unwilling to do so because they will face continued persecution. Many are also living in perilous situations or have specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection. In such circumstances, UNHCR helps resettle refugees in a third country as the only safe and viable durable solution. Only about one per cent of the 10.4 million refugees of concern to UNHCR around the world can be referred by the organization for resettlement.
A small number of countries take part in regular resettlement programmes and the total number of places made available by resettlement countries falls significantly short of the assessed overall needs.
Within the region for which UNHCR’s Regional Office in Canberra has responsibility, Australia and New Zealand administer resettlement programmes, receiving approximately 6,000 and 750 refugees annually (respectively), referred by UNHCR. The United States maintains the largest resettlement programme globally, while Canada and the Nordic countries also provide a sizeable number of places annually. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of countries involved in resettlement in Europe and Latin America.
UNHCR in Canberra works closely with the Governments of Australia and New Zealand to help determine the composition of their resettlement intakes and to encourage the development of national resettlement policy and practice which is consistent with international humanitarian principles. The final decision about which caseloads and individual cases will be accepted for resettlement rests with the Government and not with UNHCR.
More broadly, UNHCR's resettlement policy and practice is set out in the Resettlement Handbook.
Resettlement countries, including Australia and New Zealand, provide resettled refugees with legal and physical protection, including access to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals. Resettlement should allow former refugees to become naturalized citizens in due course.
Resettlement is a life-changing experience. It is both challenging and rewarding. Refugees are often resettled to a country where the society, language and culture are completely different and new to them. Providing for their effective reception and integration is beneficial for both the resettled refugee and the receiving country. Governments and non-governmental organization partners provide services to facilitate integration, such as cultural orientation, language and vocational training as well as programmes to promote access to education and employment.