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As Global Refugee Forum approaches, MPI Europe brief offers a road map for smart investment in refugee sponsorship programmes
Press Release
Thursday, December 12, 2019

As Global Refugee Forum approaches, MPI Europe brief offers a road map for smart investment in refugee sponsorship programmes

BRUSSELS — Even as the number of refugees in need of protection has reached an all-time high, the resettlement spots offered by countries in 2018 were less than half the level in 2016—and future commitments may shrink further. With refugee needs high and generosity dimming, there is increasing urgency for humanitarian actors to find new ways to bring refugees to safety as well as to rebuild public interest and consensus around the importance of protection.

A new Migration Policy Institute Europe policy brief examines one route increasingly used as a complementary or alternative resettlement pathway: Refugee sponsorship programs (also called private sponsorship in some contexts). Such initiatives empower community groups, civil-society organizations and even private individuals to take on some degree of responsibility for helping refugees settle and integrate into their new society, and even in some cases to identify and prepare refugees for travel.

Interest in refugee sponsorship is booming, with a range of countries joining Canada, which pioneered the concept and has seen more than 306,000 refugees sponsored by private or community groups since 1978. Argentina, Australia, France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom have launched or committed to start such initiatives.

The brief, Refugee Sponsorship Programmes: A global state of play and opportunities for investment, was released in advance of next week’s Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, where the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will launch a new three-year resettlement strategy, which includes a commitment to expanding access to complementary pathways such as sponsorship.

The policy brief’s authors make the case that the focus on expansion of sponsorship programs to new countries cannot overshadow an equally critical priority: the investment needed to operate such initiatives and build their infrastructure.

"Around the world, refugee resettlement infrastructure is in urgent need of investment, both to fortify existing protection channels and to expand resettlement to meet growing needs," the policy brief concludes. "By involving private citizens more directly in refugee reception and integration, sponsorship holds the promise to improve public support for resettlement and allow countries to expand their resettlement commitments."

The policy brief assesses international protection pathways in Europe, the Americas and Oceania and offers a road map for ways in which private funders can support sponsorship program development and capacity.

Read the policy brief here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/refugee-sponsorship-programs-opportunities-investment.


MPI Europe provides authoritative research and practical policy design to governmental and non-governmental stakeholders who seek more effective management of immigration, immigrant integration and asylum systems, as well as better outcomes for newcomers, families of immigrant background and receiving communities throughout Europe. MPI Europe also provides a forum for the exchange of information on migration and immigrant integration practices within the European Union and Europe more generally.