OECD-UNHCR: Safe Pathways for Refugees IV

Complementary pathways for admission to third countries

OECD-UNHCR: Safe Pathways for Refugees IV

08 May 2024
People hugging and giving one another flowers after being reunited

Refugee family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo reunites in Greece after spending years apart.

In 2018, the Global Compact on Refugees set forth the objective to enhance access to third-country solutions. In a world where over 100 million are forcibly displaced from their homes, there is a pressing need for better inclusion of refugees in existing systems. Complementary pathways enable refugees to apply for work, study, and to reunite with family, and safely move to another country other than their country of origin or asylum just like any other person wishing to migrate. These pathways are meant to complement resettlement and contribute towards more equitable responsibility-sharing and a progressive approach to solutions for refugees. 

UNHCR collaborated with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the release of the fourth edition of the “Safe Pathways for Refugees” report series. The study fills the information gap and contributes to building the evidence base for complementary pathways and family reunification. The project began in 2018 and compiles data from 37 OECD countries and Brazil, focusing on the number of first-time entry permits* issued to seven nationalities (Afghans, Eritreans, Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians, Somalis, and Venezuelans) for family, education, work and sponsorship purposes. 

The “Safe Pathways for Refugees” series is a biennial publication. Given the momentum generated during the Global Refugee Forum 2023 around complementary pathways and family reunification, it was deemed useful to issue the fourth edition of the report and provide data on first-time entry permits issued in 2022. The publication aims to be a helpful tool to support States, private actors, non-governmental organisations, refugee-led and diaspora groups and other stakeholders engaged in multi-stakeholder pledges in planning their next steps for turning their commitments into action. It also serves as a valuable resource to report on the progress made towards achieving the Roadmap 2030 goal of admitting 2.1 million refugees by 2030. 

As evidenced in the report, the overall figures of permits issued for 2022 were remarkably high in both relative and absolute terms. The nearly 215,000 new permits granted mark an increase of 38 per cent compared to 2021, the largest year-on-year growth within the period that this publication series covers (2010-2022). The resulting figure surpassed pre-pandemic levels to reach the highest number of issuances since 2017 and the second-highest yearly number within the overall period of analysis.

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*For the purpose of this study, permits are considered as any first-time authorization issued by a receiving country to lawfully allow a foreign national to enter the country for family reunification, work or study purposes. Moreover, the report includes some figures on admissions via sponsorship pathways where available.