Voluntary return to the country of origin
The majority of refugees wishes to return to their country of origin. For successful reintegration, it is important to guarantee safety and ensure that living conditions are durable. The refugee that returns to his country of origin, must be able to provide for himself and have access to adequate services (healthcare, education, etc).
Solutions in the first country of asylum
When it comes to refugees that cannot return to their country of origin, the UNHCR must seek solutions in the first country of asylum. These countries are encouraged to offer durable solutions to refugees that reside in their territories, e.g. by offering a permanent residence status or by ensuring the camp environment offers long-term living conditions, where refugees can provide for themselves and stop being dependent on food aid.
In the context of resettlement, a third country agrees to offer a permanent residence status to a refugee.
Resettlement offers a solution for refugees who
- are inadequately protected in the first country to which they fled or cannot integrate in a durable manner
- cannot safely return to their country of origin.
The UNHCR identifies the most vulnerable refugees and decides which refugees may be offered resettlement.
Resettlement is supplementary to national asylum procedures.
Resettlement - part of Belgian asylum policy
Before 2013, Belgium organised resettlement on an ad hoc basis: in 2009 Belgium resettled 47 Iraqis from Syria and Jordan; in 2011, 25 persons of Eritrean and Congolese nationality that had fled from the Libyan conflict.
In May 2012, the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Maggie De Block, decided that Belgium should sign up to the collective European resettlement programme. This programme aims to increase the number of resettlement places and improve the coordination role of the EU. Since then, Member States have applied collective parameters to the choice of which refugee populations have priority in terms of resettlement. This European programme provides financial support for Member States that resettle refugees.
Since 2013, Belgium has had a resettlement programme with an annual quota. Belgium thus implements an integrated policy of international protection. As a result of its national asylum procedure, Belgium protects applicants (for international protection) who present themselves spontaneously; an annual resettlement quota offers protection to the most vulnerable refugees in the region of the countries of origin.
Worldwide, Belgium is the 27th country with a structural resettlement programme.
The role of the CGRS in resettlement
On the basis of its protection mandate and country-based expertise, the CGRS plays a significant role in the resettlement process.
Priority regions and populations
The CGRS prepares a proposal regarding which regions and populations are to fill the available places in Belgium. This occurs in close collaboration with the UNHCR.
After submission of a refugee by the UNHCR, a definitive selection recommendation is put to the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration by the CGRS. The Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration takes the final decision. This selection can take place in two ways: either the CGRS takes a decision on the basis of the UNHCR's refugee file only, or the CGRS organises a selection mission to interview the refugees again.
Granting refugee status
Once selection has been completed, Fedasil and the IOM follows-up and organises the transfer of the resettled refugees. Ultimately, the CGRS takes a formal decision regarding the recognition of the resettled refugees’ refugee status.