The global number of displaced persons keeps rising. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has identified more than 1.44 million refugees in need of resettlement in 2020. However, current national pledges will serve fewer than 1% of these refugees. Against this background, community sponsorship programmes are met with increased interest.
On 25 June 2020, EUROCITIES and the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) organised a webinar to discuss with cities how they could become more involved in community sponsorship programmes. These programmes allow citizen groups to directly engage in refugee resettlement efforts and enable cities to work in close partnership with communities in resettling refugees. Cities can provide support to the community and sponsored refugees from arrival to settlement and integration and have an important stake in including refugees in society.
During the webinar, cities heard different perspectives on sponsorship programmes and how they work in practice from speakers from the UNHCR, national level, local authorities and sponsors themselves. They also received more information on funding opportunities for sponsorship programmes and the positive integration outcomes for sponsored refugees.
Bristol and Birmingham shared their own experiences from working together with the UK Home Office and local communities and discussed the role of local authorities involved in the process. This can range from raising awareness, to coordinating sponsorship groups and supporting the groups in their sponsorship application to the national level. When it comes to the practical side of things, local authorities also become involved with finding adequate housing, providing support and advice to the groups throughout the process and building long-term relationships with and between the communities.
The cities then had an exchange about the infrastructure of community sponsorship programmes, how the programmes relate to traditional resettlement channels and adequate narratives about the relationship between the sponsor group and the sponsored refugees.
If your city is interested in community sponsorship programmes, you can find the recording of this webinar online.
For more information, specific questions, and support for setting up a sponsorship programme in your city, you can contact the GRSI directly (Giulio di Blasi, Europe Director, firstname.lastname@example.org).