The resettlement of refugees under the UNHCR programmes involves the selection and transfer of refugees who have fled from one state to a state in which they sought protection and who are then resettled in a third state which has agreed to grant them permanent residence as refugees. These programmes are based on agreements between the individual countries and the UNHCR, which lay out the criteria under which certain refugees will be resettled. These criteria relate to the type of refugees (children for instance), the refugees’ origins and the number of refugees in question. The UK currently has four resettlement schemes in place:
- The Mandate scheme, which allows for the resettlement of refugees who have close family members living in the UK. Refugees from anywhere in the world with close relatives settled in the UK are eligible to apply for this scheme.
- The Gateway Protection Programme, which was put in place in order to resettle those who have been living in a protracted refugee situation for a five-year minimum or those in urgent need of being resettled. It has an annual target to resettle 750 refugees per year.
- The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme (“VPRS”), which was launched in the UK in 2014 and accommodates refugees in the MENA region who have been displaced by the Syrian conflict.
- The Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (“VCRS”), which was started in 2016 to resettle children deemed ‘at risk’ from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey. The programme focuses particularly on unaccompanied children, although children accompanied by their families are also eligible.
Both the VPRS and VCRS programmes were scheduled to stop operating in Spring 2020. However, the government plans to consolidate them, together with the Gateway Programme, into a single ‘global resettlement scheme’ which will aim to resettle approximately 5,000 refugees in the first year.
The focus of this new programme will be on refugees who are “greatest in need of assistance, including people requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of violence and torture, and women and children at risk”. It will also have an expanded geographical focus beyond the Middle East and North Africa.
The Home Office declared that the new programme would be “simpler to operate and provide greater consistency in the way that the UK government resettles refugees”. It also announced that a new process for emergency resettlement would be developed to allow the UK to respond more quickly to situations where there is a heightened need for protection.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.