27th Feb 2024

Germany tops EU states for refugee resettlement pledges

  • 14 EU states have agreed to resettle around 31,000 refugees, over the next two years. Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia made no pledges (Photo: Freedom House)
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Germany has pledged to resettle more UN-screened refugees than any other EU member state, totalling around 13,000 spread out over 2024 and 2025, according to a European Commission document.

Germany had also pledged to accept 24,000 humanitarian admissions — far more than any other member state.

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Unlike UN-backed resettlements, humanitarian admissions are based on referrals from other institutions such as the EU asylum agency.

France comes in at a distant second with 6,000 resettlement pledges, followed by Spain (2,400) and the Netherlands (2,000). Spain had also agreed to 3,400 humanitarian admissions.

And Belgium, which is now steering the EU presidency, agreed to resettle 1,500 and offered 75 humanitarian admissions.

But civil society say more can be done, noting that EU states easily have the capacity to resettle around 45,000 refugees annually, as well as additional places for Afghans.

However, EU states agreed to resettle just under 31,000 refugees spread out over the two-year period, so around 15,000 per year.

"This is far out of pace with the level of need, and their capacity," said the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on Wednesday (10 January).

Civil society groups last year had pressed for the EU states to collectively pledge 44,000 places in 2024 and of 48,000 in 2025.

And the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates resettlement needs are expected to soar by 20 percent to 2.4 million in 2024.

Most are women and girls, survivors of violence, and people with specific protection needs, says the IRC.

But the appetite for resettlement appears to be waning as fewer EU states offer pledges. Only 14 EU states pledged places for 2024 and 2025. In 2023, it was 17.

It also comes at a time when EU states are still hosting millions of Ukrainian refugees since Russia's invasion in February 2022.

The pledge drive took place last December, with overall figures announced by the European Commission, following a Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

Earlier this week in Greece, the EU's home affair commissioner Ylva Johansson defended the figures.

"Member states are not decreasing their pledges for resettlement for those that are most in need in different parts of the world," she said.

Indeed, last year pledges hovered just under 16,000. This year it is around the same. But, by comparison, in 2020 EU states made 30,000 resettlement pledges for the whole of one year.

And the European Commission under Jean-Claude Junker in 2017 had pushed for 50,000 over a two-year period.

There is also a difference between what is pledged and what is delivered. While 17 EU states last year pledged to resettle just under 16,000 refugees, they fell short by 5,000, at a total of around 11,000.

It is not year clear if the 14 EU states will commit to their 2024 and 2025 pledges.

The EU states which did not pledge are Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns

Germany is expanding agreements to return rejected asylum seekers to their countries of origin as part of a wider shift in Europe to curtail migration. Berlin has reached deals with Georgia and Morocco since December.


Ukraine refugees want to return home — but how?

Fewer than one-in-ten Ukrainian refugees intend to settle permanently outside Ukraine, according to new research by the associate director of research and the director of gender and economic inclusion at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

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