E.g., 09/27/2023
E.g., 09/27/2023
The success of community sponsorship programmes for refugees hinges on better attraction, retention and diversification of sponsors
Press Release
Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The success of community sponsorship programmes for refugees hinges on better attraction, retention and diversification of sponsors

BRUSSELS — In response to recent humanitarian crises — Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan and Ukraine among them — and the recognition that fewer than 4 per cent of refugees are resettled yearly, more countries in Europe and beyond are exploring the potential of sponsorship programmes to open up more pathways for refugee protection and integration.

Beyond the staggering scale of unmet protection needs globally, the growing support for sponsorship programmes comes as policymakers and other stakeholders increasingly perceive the value of involving receiving communities more directly in welcoming and supporting the integration of refugee newcomers. While such programmes have existed in Canada for decades, it is only in the past eight years that they have been introduced in Europe, including in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. As of mid-2023, nearly 20 countries worldwide operated sponsorship initiatives.

The strength of community sponsorship programmes — and their ability to be sustained and scaled up — hinges on recruiting community members to volunteer their time and often personal resources to support arriving refugees. Yet programmes often face challenges recruiting and retaining sponsors, as a new report from the Building Capacity for Private Sponsorship in the European Union (CAPS-EU) Project outlines.

The report, Attracting, retaining and diversifying sponsors for refugees in community sponsorship programmes, points to several factors that can hamper sponsor recruitment, including limited networks, extensive sponsor requirements and cumbersome application processes. Retention, on the other hand, can be harmed by lack of support for executing difficult tasks, among other factors.

Relying on findings from surveys and interviews conducted in three case-study countries (Belgium, Germany and Ireland) as well as evidence from some other countries operating sponsorship programmes and lessons from private hosting efforts that emerged following displacement from Ukraine, the report examines strategies that programmes could and in some cases already use to overcome obstacles. It suggests different ways to enhance the capacity and preparedness of sponsors, including through lowering participation barriers, improving support structures, giving sponsors greater say in matching with refugees and broadening outreach to attract more — and more diverse — sponsors.

‘To sustain and expand sponsorship initiatives, significant investments are needed to raise awareness of them, enhance their appeal to potential sponsors and build out the support structures necessary to help sponsors succeed in and enjoy their role — and ideally encourage them to repeat it in the future’, the report concludes.

The CAPS-EU Project is working to build the capacity of European, national and local government, and nongovernment stakeholders to design, implement, sustain and scale up community sponsorship programmes. It seeks to benefit policymakers, civil-society actors that manage sponsorship relationships and sponsors by giving them the practical tools and requisite knowledge to overcome obstacles to the success and eventual growth of their programmes.

Led by the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) and supported by the Belgian reception agency for asylum seekers (Fedasil) and MPI Europe, the three-year project is co-financed by the European Commission under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Read the report here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/attracting-retaining-community-sponsorship.

For more on the CAPS-EU project, visit www.migrationpolicy.org/caps-eu-project.