Refugee Sponsorship Programs: A Global State of Play and Opportunities for Investment
A pair of contradictory trends is challenging humanitarian protection systems around the world: the number of refugees in need of protection has climbed to an all-time high, while at the same time, many countries have reduced their commitments to refugee resettlement. With protection needs high and generosity low, it has become more important to find new ways for refugees to reach safety and to rebuild public consensus around the value of offering protection to those in need.
To meet these challenges, governments and civil-society groups in a growing number of countries have begun to explore refugee sponsorship (also called community or private sponsorship), either as a complement or alternative to traditional protection pathways. This MPI Europe policy brief takes stock of sponsorship programs worldwide—from the well-established Canadian private sponsorship program, to much newer and smaller-scale initiatives in countries such as Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Although government investment and support for such programs are essential, this study also lays out a variety of ways private philanthropic actors can support these programs. Among them: funding the development of informational materials and hotlines for sponsors; investing in program infrastrucrture, such as staff positions within civil-society organizations; and monitoring and evaluation by civil society and/or government. Crucially, the authors note that while much effort in recent years has gone into developing and launching new initiatives, existing programs also face important capacity and funding gaps. “To ensure the capacity of refugee protection systems at a global level,” they write, “strengthening these programs should be viewed as a priority equal in importance to setting up new schemes.”
II. The State of Refugee Sponsorship Globally
III. Four Things Sponsorship Programs Need to Succeed
A. Interest and Support
IV. A Roadmap for Investment in Sponsorship
A. Support for Sponsors
B. Support for Civil-Society Organizations
C. Support for Governments