Geneva — The U.N. refugee agency projects more than 2 million refugees will need to be resettled in third countries of asylum in 2023, a 36% increase over this year’s 1.47 million.
All of the more than 27 million refugees in the world have fled war, violence, conflict, or persecution and need international protection. But some refugees are particularly vulnerable. They include people who cannot return to their home countries, live safely in neighboring countries, or have special needs and disabilities.
U.N. refugee spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo says resettlement is a lifesaving tool to protect some refugees, who are most at risk or have special needs that cannot be met in their countries of asylum.
“Of all refugees submitted by UNHCR for resettlement last year, 37% were for those with legal and physical protection needs, 32% were for survivors of violence and/or torture and 17% were for women, adolescents and children at risk,” she said.
The UNHCR reports the most needs in 2023 will be from countries of asylum across the African continent, closely followed by the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.
Mantoo says Syria, with nearly 778,000 refugees, represents the population with highest global resettlement needs, followed by refugees from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Myanmar, which has more than 114,000 largely stateless Rohingya.
She says the substantial jump in the number of refugees needing resettlement next year is based on several factors.
“The humanitarian impact, the protection impacts of the pandemic, which have exacerbated vulnerability. The protracted nature of a number of these refugee situations in which more people are displaced or they are spending longer times in displacement, and also the emergence of new humanitarian crises and displacement situations,” she said.
Mantoo warns resettlement needs will continue to grow in the absence of peace and prospects for the voluntary return of refugees.
The UNHCR is appealing for predictable, multi-year resettlement commitments from states. It also is calling on states to speed up resettlement processing and departure arrangements, so refugees do not have to continue languishing in countries of asylum with no end in sight to their ordeal.