10 000 Refugees from Iraq - Executive Summary and Recommendations
Violence has forced millions of Iraqi children, women and men to flee their homes and seek refuge both inside and beyond their country’s borders. In light of the challenges preventing refugees from returning to Iraq and of the obstacles to local integration in host countries like Jordan and Syria, for many of the most vulnerable refugees, resettlement in a new country is the only durable solution.
With this report, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) want to find out how far EU Member States have come to meet the pledge of resettling up to 10 000 refugees from Iraq, as expressed in the joint EU call of November
2008, and to document what can be considered as a first experience of joint resettlement in the European Union.
After the Iraqi refugee crisis erupted in 2006, a coordinated EU response was slow to build up and initially relied on the generosity of eight countries with established resettlement programmes. These countries offered some 3 300 places for Iraqi refugees between 2007 and 2008. Under the leadership of Member States like France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, and with the support of the European Commission, the EU response was energised by the November 2008 Council Conclusions and by the decision of a number of countries to establish ad hoc resettlement quotas.
As a result, in 2009 alone, twelve EU countries were able to offer over 5 100 resettlement places, thereby bringing the number of resettled refugees from Iraq since 2007 to just over 8 400, and showing that EU countries are able to make a difference by acting together. At the same time, although the joint effort for Iraqi refugees clearly contributed to an increase in resettlement places available for refugees in the EU, with the global increase in resettlement between 2007 and 2009, the relative contribution of the EU has remained unchanged. The report also describes how resettlement of Iraqis has been carried out in each of the countries involved and makes recommendations to guide further steps by both the EU, as it develops its first Joint EU Resettlement Programme, and the Member States.
The November 2008 pledge to resettle up to 10 000 refugees from Iraq has not yet been met and it is not clear how and when this will happen. The question is how much more are the EU and its Member States prepared to do to address the continuing needs of Iraqi and other refugees in need of durable solutions.
1. Fewer than half of the 27 EU Member States have participated in the joint effort to resettle refugees from Iraq. More countries should consider resettling refugees to increase the overall EU contribution to specific refugee crises as well as to global resettlement efforts.
2. The Joint EU Resettlement Programme will be an opportunity to define common EU priorities. A significant number of resettlement places should be made available in the EU for refugees from Iraq who should become part of the common EU priorities. The use of multi-year quotas should be expanded, to allow appropriate planning by receiving countries and all the actors involved.
3. Resettlement, humanitarian aid and other relevant EU policies and funding instruments should be better coordinated to make strategic use of resettlement and increase the protection of refugees.
4. EU attention should continue to focus on the humanitarian situation inside Iraq and in the region to ensure that the needs of vulnerable uprooted people, including refugees, are properly addressed. Appropriate funding should be provided to UNHCR and NGOs to protect and assist Iraqis and
support the Iraq Humanitarian Action Plan (IHAP).
5. Member States should not deport Iraqis and other failed asylum seekers as long as security conditions are not conducive to return in their country of origin.
Resettlement is an opportunity for European people and their governments to make a lasting difference in the lives of thousands of vulnerable children, women and men who will never be able to go home. Europe can offer them protection and a better future.