Complementary pathways for admission to third countries


15 December 2020
Resettlement - Lebanese refugee playing football

Young refugee resettled to Spain dreams of playing for Real Madrid

One of the primary objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees is to facilitate access to durable solutions. While eliminating root causes is the most effective way to achieve these solutions, pragmatism is required. The programme of action envisaged by the GCR therefore includes the three traditional durable solutions of voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration, as well as complementary pathways for admission to third countries and local solutions.  

Read more to discover how GRF pledges have facilitated progress on solutions this year.  

Three Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways  

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, positive progress has been achieved in living up to the goals of the Three-Year Strategy (2019-2021) on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways.  

  • Finland and Iceland fulfilled their GRF pledges by increasing their 2020 resettlement targets to 850 and 85 refugees respectively, and their 2021 targets to 1,050 and 100 refugees respectively.
  • Norway fulfilled its pledge to resettle 3,000 refugees in 2019, marking an increase from 2018, and will carry over unused 2020 places and implement them in 2021 in addition to a new target of 3,000 places.
  • Canada fulfilled its GRF pledge for the formulation of a new multi-year resettlement commitment, by increasing its resettlement programme to a target of 36,000 refugees each year in the period 2021-2023. 
  • Two new community sponsorship programmes also emerged. In late September, five UNHCR-referred refugee families arrived in Valencia, Spain, and in late October, three UNHCR-referred refugee families arrived in Belgium. These arrivals fulfil pledges made at the GRF and signal a modest but important advancement of the Strategy’s goal of building more inclusive and welcoming societies through models that harness local resources and empower communities.
Two boys stand with their father in front of vegetable cart


  • 2020 has also seen an expansion of partnerships to scale up complementary pathways programmes. For example, the Global Task Force on Third Country Education Pathways, co-chaired by World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Open Society University Network (OSUN), was established in May 2020.
  • The Japan ICU Foundation fulfilled its GRF pledge to hold an Online Discussion Series on Higher Education Initiatives for Refugees in Asia and the Pacific, organized together with UNHCR. The webinars offered an opportunity to actors in the region (including refugees) to share experiences and best practices and led to the establishment of an Online Forum for Education Pathways in Asia and the Pacific. 

Related article: Complementary pathways provide hope for Syrian refugees 

Durable Solutions   

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected progress on local integration, solutions, and voluntary repatriation, particularly through delays in planning processes and new funding constraints. At the global-level, UNHCR and partners are continuing efforts to mobilize global support and facilitate opportunities for matching of technical, material, and financial support to advance solutions pledges. Despite the challenges faced, significant progress has been made on pledges by host and donor countries:  

  • In Somalia, the National Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP) has advanced its coordination for the enhancement of Durable Solutions in Somalia and begun to develop a national durable solutions strategy through a wider consultations process. In addition, a voluntary pilot project is being developed to allow IDPs to return to their areas of origin with support to rebuild their lives in Somalia. 
A man makes a wooden picture frame with a saw.


  • The new Solutions Initiative by Sudan and South Sudan is showing great promise to realize their commitment to create an enabling environment for return of refugees and IDPs and facilitate their reintegration. The IGAD Support Platform, also launched at the 2019 GRF, is playing an important role in mobilizing political commitment towards and advocating for solutions in the two countries, as well as in countries hosting Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees in the region.
  • Denmark has disbursed grants for investment in durable solutions programmes and global capacities and expertise, including planning for the new multi-year programme to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity among affected communities across the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa.  
  • The government of Malawi have made progress on its pledge to include refugees in the national development agenda. The Government has included refugees in its Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III and include reference to the need to “upscale support and involvement of refugees in national development programming and implementation”. Other progress has been made on inclusion of refugees in Education and Livelihoods.  
  • In Jordan, the Danish Refugee Council, in partnership Novo Nordisk Foundation, has launched the RYSE project (Resilient Youth, Socially and Economically Empowered) aiming to build better futures for 25,000 young Syrian refugees and other conflict-affected youth in Jordan. 

We continue to invite pledging entities to submit updates on pledge implementation. Please visit this page to submit a new update.


The following updates are not comprehensive but offer a snapshot of progress on pledge implementation. For further information, visit the Pledges and Contributions dashboard.

One year on from the Global Refugee Forum