Encouraging community sponsorship across the globe
Submitted by: Jennifer Foster, Advocate/Adviser for Refugee and Migrant Rights Team
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Global, highlighting Ireland, Australia, and the United States.
The campaign is ending now, but community sponsorship work continues and is expanding.
Amnesty International is uniquely placed to use its networks of members, making the case for resettlement and encouraging community-based action. It provides practical help as well as hope and inspiration to those involved in human rights and crises causing displacement. It urges members to get involved with community sponsorship initiatives in their own countries.
The purpose of the project is to:
- Increase exposure to community sponsorship globally through our membership
- Provide concrete way for those concerned with human rights and refugee causes to realise they can have an effect by hosting refugees
- Develop country-specific advocacy plans with national offices to enable community sponsorship and increase numbers
- Through campaigning, to increase activism and demand for community sponsorship by connecting members, helping form community sponsorship groups and soliciting pledges to resettle
- Continue to expand and increase community sponsorship by pairing the more developed country plans and offices with emerging and interested countries
- Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative
- National governments
- Civil society organisations in each country
Main activities of the Good Practice
In 2017 it launched a global campaign called “I Welcome” to highlight resettlement needs. Community sponsorship was included under that umbrella.
The “I Welcome” campaign has provided a vehicle for the movement, which country offices have taken and up and adapted to their own circumstances.
The Irish government launched a successful community sponsorship programme in March 2019. Amnesty Ireland partnered with refugee and migrant rights organizations to devise policies with the government and build the infrastructure.
Amnesty is now turning its attention to mobilising and supporting members of the public to become sponsors via local Amnesty groups and networks. In collaboration with partner organizations, the office is establishing a National Support Organisation to extend the community sponsorship programme nationally.
Amnesty Australia has seen positive results throughout the country and across the political spectrum, with major political parties pledging to improve sponsorship and increase the number of people arriving under the scheme.
About 30,000 citizens have pledged support. Since the launch of the “My New Neighbour” campaign in March 2018, Amnesty Australia’s outreach campaign has won commitments from representatives from all states except one.
In June 2018 Amnesty USA launched the “Longer Table” initiative to build a movement to welcome refugees in the United States. Today, Amnesty USA partners with all nine national resettlement agencies and nearly 75 local affiliates with community sponsorship and volunteer networks.
Seven Amnesty groups have committed to sponsoring families and another 14 groups are considering sponsorship. All the families who have arrived so far have been from Afghanistan.
Challenges and how they were overcome
- The political environment and negative narratives surrounding immigrants and refugees are a challenge.
- Financial and human resources dedicated to community sponsorship can be problematic as a result of the global environment and competing priorities
- High cost of sponsorship in some countries
How they were overcome
- Amnesty is working on testing messages with different audiences to try to change narratives and counter negative ones
- The benefits of community sponsorship continue to be seen and it is hoped that additional membership will be a result
- Innovative ideas for fundraising are shared through Amnesty’s networks
Results of the Good Practice
- Amnesty International members have been taking direct action in various ways to advocate for community sponsorship.
- Messages and advocacy are adapted to the needs of individual countries by section offices in those countries. This makes activism more relevant and effective.
- Doors are being opened to community sponsorship programmes throughout the world, providing resettlement for more refugees.
- Individuals with relevant experience, e.g. former refugees, are advising on community sponsorship in some countries.
- Continue outreach and bring countries into the fold that currently do not have any community sponsorship schemes
- Increase the number of refugees resettled in emerging countries
- Develop M&E framework to learn more and improve upon our methods
- Improve our internal collaboration and matching system