On 2-3 June 2016, professionals working in the area of international protection from the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries and the European Union Member States gathered in Stockholm to discuss resettlement and other forms of admission of persons in need of international protection. Sweden and Armenia hosted the meeting. Sweden has long traditions of resettlement of refugees dating back to the 1950s. For Armenia, who has substantial experience in providing international protection to refugees as well as other EaP countries, the preparation of the meeting became an opportunity to get a closer look at resettlement, often not envisaged in the national legislation.
In the course of the meeting sessions, countries and organizations experienced in various forms of humanitarian admission for many years shared their insight to the process. They shared best practices and lessons learnt as well as the procedure. Those with less experience had a chance to focus on legal challenges, deterrents and practical solutions that are linked to the resettlement. The representatives of academic institutions and international organizations provided structured theoretical background as well as the global outlook to humanitarian admission.
A personal story narrated by a refugee previously resettled to Sweden offered firsthand experience of the beneficiaries of resettlement and brought the human touch to the discussion that followed. UNHCR and the European Commission (EC) presented resettlement in the global and European contexts, including it being a critical component of the response to the current migration crisis in the EU. Ms. Naoko Hashimoto from the University of Sussex offered her analysis of resettlement from historical, political and conceptual perspective. IOM Ukraine presented the discussion document compiled for the meeting based on written responses provided by the participating countries to the thematic questionnaires.
Presentations delivered by representatives of Canada, Finland, Germany and the United Kingdom on their national humanitarian admission programmes – including resettlement – provided fairly deep overview of how such programmes are designed and implemented. The representative of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) informed on how intra-EU relocation mechanisms can be executed in practice. Further on, UNHCR, IOM, and the Netherlands provided a closer look at individual stages of resettlement programmes: identification, examination, pre-departure arrangements, transfer, reception, and integration. Sweden introduced to the participants the “EU-FRANK” project, supported by the EC and led by Sweden. The project aims to provide operational support to the EU Member States to facilitate the management of increased resettlement.
The final session was conducted with a panel discussion format, where the representatives of all the EaP countries – among which only Belarus has experience in resettlement – had an opportunity to discuss their countries’ needs, priorities and available options for resettling refugees.