Mr Miliband spoke at this afternoon’s High-Level Resettlement Forum - a one-of-a-kind opportunity that saw the EU, US, Canada, European member states, NGO and civil society representatives come together to discuss how to step up refugee resettlement in response to the rising number of people now in need of international protection. Speakers included Ylva Johansson (EU Commissioner for Home Affairs), Alejandro Mayorkas (US Secretary of Homeland Security), Filippo Grandi (UN High Commissioner for Refugees), and several EU interior ministers including Slovenia - the new Presidency of the European Council.

New figures from UNHCR reveal that a record 1.47 million refugees will be in need of resettlement next year. This comes at a moment when global resettlement efforts have slumped to fresh lows, in part due to COVID-19. Fewer than 35,000 refugees were resettled globally last year, while EU member states (and the UK) resettled only 9,119 refugees in 2020 - falling far short of their pledges to welcome 30,000 refugees through this route.  

At today’s forum, the IRC’s President and CEO, David Miliband urged decision makers to reinvigorate global solidarity and create more robust, well-organised, sustainable and future-proofed resettlement programmes, starting with increased pledges. Mr Miliband said: 

“Last year was disastrous for refugee resettlement, but even pre-COVID the numbers were far too low. UNHCR identifies 1.5 million refugees in need of resettlement, so Europe’s responsibilities are profound indeed. The IRC has identified five key ways that the EU can step up and show global leadership on resettlement.

First, targets matter. They help set the right kind of accountability: we need resettlement targets not just for 2022, but for 2023, 2024 and 2025. Second, we must continue to innovate to make resettlement processing more effective and efficient. Third, legislation is key - taking forward the Union Resettlement Framework will be very important to get resettlement on a stronger, more sustainable footing. Fourth, we must build the infrastructure for integration: the aim is not just to transfer people but to integrate and truly include them in our societies so they can fully contribute. And, crucially, the stories, experiences and expertise of refugees themselves need to be elevated to the heart of our action."

While the IRC welcomes the statements of commitment to strengthening resettlement expressed at today’s Forum as a much-needed first step, this momentum cannot be wasted – it must translate into the swift implementation of existing promises, and concrete new pledges from EU member states.

Today Europe has a pivotal opportunity to demonstrate leadership on refugee protection. Together with five other NGOs and networks, the IRC issued a statement ahead of this Forum calling on member states to urgently fulfil their resettlement commitments, make ambitious pledges for 2022 between now and September, and plan for a sustainable increase over the coming years.  


Further information:

Key resettlement facts and figures: