Protection in Europe for refugees from Syria

Protection in Europe for refugees from Syria

This policy note provides an executive summary of an accompanying policy briefing which considers the response of European countries to the refugee crisis in the Syrian region.

Significantly expanded resettlement programmes offering permanent residence outside the countries neighbouring Syria would be the best option for refugees. However, given the unlikelihood of expansion of resettlement on a mass scale and in agreement with the Akram report, the authors recommend that European countries implement a Comprehensive Plan of Action for refugees in the countries neighbouring Syria. This should comprise three main components: activation of a regional temporary protection regime, expanded resettlement, and the development of other legal routes of entry into European countries. In addition, they propose that UNHCR, governments and NGOs expand public education campaigns to combat anti-immigrant sentiment, emphasising the contributions refugees make to their host countries as well as the life-threatening situations from which they have fled.

Recommendations:

  • expand humanitarian admission/temporary protection : Preferably as part of a region-wide, coordinated programme, European countries should significantly expand their humanitarian admission/temporary protection regimes for refugees (of any nationality or stateless) to allow them to enter Europe from the countries neighbouring Syria. Germany’s example could be followed and expanded upon, and/or the EU Temporary Protection Directive could serve as a model. Although temporary protection does not provide as much long-term security for refugees as resettlement, it may be easier to implement for political reasons, and it serves the aim of getting refugees to a place of safety as well as the aims of solidarity and responsibility sharing
  • expand resettlement: European countries should significantly expand resettlement programmes allowing entry into Europe for refugees currently in the countries neighbouring Syria, with particular focus on clearing the backlog of refugees (of any nationality) already approved for resettlement
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