A protection-oriented and anchored Belgian Refugee Resettlement Programme
Geert Beirnaert, EU and International Affairs, Head of Unit - CGRS
Vinciane Masurelle, Head of the International Department – Fedasil
Geert Beirnaert: [email protected]
Vinciane Masurelle: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Since January 2013
Since 2013, Belgium is implementing a refugee resettlement programme, coordinated by the CGRS and Fedasil (see below) under the responsibility of the Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, and of Asylum and Migration.
The goal is to build a flexible, high-quality, innovative and anchored Belgian resettlement programme in line with EU developments.
-The EU Asylum, Migration an Integration Fund (AMIF 2014-2020).
-Existing legislation: Aliens Act of 15/12/1980; Reception Law of 02/01/2007; Social security and social aid laws; integration laws; employment laws, etc.
-Established national, regional and local systems (related to protection, reception, integration and social welfare) fostering the development and strengthening of the programme.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Over the last years in Belgium:
- Established a structural programme with an annual resettlement quota.
- Anchored the programme in existing and mainstream structures and support services (reception/integration).
- Improved the organisational aspects of the programme (roles and responsibilities, processes development).
- Participated in UNHCR Emergency Transit Mechanism from Libya and piloted resettlement of unaccompanied children.
- Created a network of partner municipalities who provide long term accommodation and support.
- Developed BELCO, Fedasil’s pre-departure orientation training for selected refugees.
- Built a refugee-voices component into the programme through a peer-to-peer pilot project implemented by Caritas International (network of resettled refugees and ambassadors’ programme).
- Participated in capacity building activities and a network of experts through initiatives such as the Swedish-led EU-FRANK project.
- Participated in EU operational coordination projects such as the EASO Resettlement Support Facility in Turkey.
- Initiated a reflection on community sponsorship as a complementary pathway based on past experiences in Belgium.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local Embassies
- Immigration Office, Security of State, Border Police
- Municipalities (Local Social Welfare Centres)
- Integration actors
- Caritas International
How challenges were overcome
Main challenges of the resettlement programme:
- Awareness raising and communication about the programme.
- Legal, operational and financial anchoring of the programme.
- Predictability of operations in multiannual programming.
- Operations planning, implementation and monitoring with a bigger quota in a volatile national asylum and reception environment.
- Management of expectations.
- Close multistakeholder coordination incl. through a national steering or operational committees.
- Joint processes.
- Operational cooperation at EU level and international benchmarking, incl. through UNHCR groups.
Some of the challenges – such as management of expectations, awareness raising, and predictability of operations – are still topical. The partners are and will keep working on them together, in line with the continuous efforts to meet the targets in a qualitative manner.
Results of the Good Practice
- To date 3,284 refugees of 9 different nationalities have been resettled from 13 countries of asylum.
- The refugees systematically receive a pre-departure orientation programme provided by Fedasil (BELCO), which is aimed at managing their expectations, easing their transfer and arrival and supporting their adaptation in Belgium.
- The refugees are accommodated in adequate reception facilities, benefit from a specific reception programme and are provided with housing and integration support.
- The receiving actors get information and support through various channels in order to empower them, facilitate their work and support integration as a two way process.
The programme being structural, Belgium plans to continue its resettlement commitment in the future and pledge according to EU modalities. The authorities involved will continue to strive to strengthen and improve the programme.