Refugee 101, Part 3: Pre-Resettlement

Syrian youth in in an English class in Saida, Lebanon. Not all displaced Syrians in Lebanon are eligible to attend school. Those that do have access to formal education attend classes in the afternoons, after the traditional Lebanese school day has finished. Many students, like most of those in this class, work as day laborers outside of their three hour learning window.

Syrian youth in in an English class in Saida, Lebanon. Not all displaced Syrians in Lebanon are eligible to attend school. Those that do have access to formal education attend classes in the afternoons, after the traditional Lebanese school day has finished. Many students, like most of those in this class, work as day laborers outside of their three hour learning window.

EXPLORING THE PRE-RESETTLEMENT PROCESS

“En route to a place on our classroom rosters, the resettled refugee child will have coursed through an intricate system of relocation mechanisms and endured innumerable transformations. Refugee families often endure multiple relocations, endless interviews, and a myriad of mental and physical assessments on the path to resettlement. They might have also experienced unimaginable distress: loss, sacrifice, hunger, human atrocity, and an exceptional scarcity of basic needs.

Resettlement histories are the ballads of a conflicted mankind, and testimonies of human migration are rarely uncomplicated. Rather, they are elaborate, winding, uncomfortable testaments to the greatness of character and spirit.

A very small percentage of those roads lead directly into our classrooms.” – The Newcomer Student: An educator’s Guide to Aid Transition, Louise El Yaafouri, (Kreuzer)


Let’s explore refugee resettlement from three stages: International, National and Local. We’ll begin with the international piece. This is where refugee identification and pre-resettlement considerations begin.

The path to resettlement is complex and extensive.  Ultimately, it is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, who is responsible for determining eligibility for refugee status.  UNHCR agents are positioned in various international regions with the central purpose of screening, interviewing, and preparing candidates for asylum. Generally, whole families are referred at once. Incredibly, less than one percent of the world’s refugees will be referred for facilitated resettlement.

In making referrals for refugee status, the United Nations ensures four critical checkpoints.  A person must:

·      Experience a well-founded fear of persecution.  

·      Be outside of the country of nationality. 

·      Be unable to access protection from the home country

·      Not be a national of another country.

Image is part of a learning video created for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at  corefugeeconnect.org .

Image is part of a learning video created for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at corefugeeconnect.org.

Once Refugee Status has been established, the UNHCR considers three durable solutions:

1.    Voluntary repatriation back into country of origination

2.    Localized integration into a neighboring country

3.    Resettlement to an agreeing third party country.

Image is part of a learning video created for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at  corefugeeconnect.org .

Image is part of a learning video created for Colorado Refugee Connect. View the full video and get involved at corefugeeconnect.org.

From The Newcomer Student:

“In considering possible outcomes for displaced persons, voluntary repatriation into the country of origin is always the primary objective. In situations where this is not an immediate or long-term possibility, localized resettlement options will be considered. When this occurs, the temporary host country (typically the refugee camp sponsor of the displaced persons) will agree to absorb its refugee-status guests into its own country as free-moving individuals with national rights.

Localized resettlement (or local integration) countries are generally proximal to the zone of distress. Frequently, receiving countries are similarly affected by turmoil and instability, even while the circumstances of distress may differ. Therefore, it is not uncommon for nations in war-torn regions of the world to “flip-flop” their national citizens; as people leave one country to seek safety in another, others may be seeking haven from persecution in the reverse direction.

Third-party resettlement is the least desirable and least attempted solution. Only a minuscule fraction of the world’s refugees will become eligible for relocation to a third-party host nation. A few make it through.

They become our students.”

SOURCES:

American Immigration Council (2013). Located at americanimmgrationcouncil.org. Retrieved Oct. 2012.

Russell, Sharon Stanton (2002). Refugees: Risks and Challenges Worldwide. Migration Policy Institute, 1946–4037.

Hamilton, Richards & Moore, Dennis (2004). Education of Refugee Children: Documenting and Implementing Change. In Educational Interventions for Refugee Children, eds Richard Hamilton & Dennis Moore, London UK: RoutledgeFalmer, Chapter 8.

McBrien,J.Lynn(2003).A Second Chance for Refugee Students. Educational Leadership, Vol. 61, No. 2, 76–9 O. Educational Needs and Barriers for Refugee Students in the United States: A Review of Literature. Review of Educational Research Vol. 75, No. 3, 329–64.

United Nations, High Commissioner for Refugees (2012). United Nations Communications and Public Information Service, Geneva, Switzerland. Located at unhcr.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

Patrick, Erin (2004). The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. Migration Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. Located at migrationpolicy.org/article/us-refugee- resettlement-program. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

United Nations Convention related to the Status of Refugees (1951). UN Article 1. Located at unhcr.org. Retrieved June 2011.

International Refugee Committee (2015). SOAR, New York. Located at rescue. org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

Van Hahn, Nguyen (2002). Annual Report to Congress- Executive Summary. Office of Refugee Resettlement. Located at acf.hhs.gov. Retrieved Dec. 2010.

Edwards, James R. Jr. (2012). Religious Agencies and Refugee Resettlement. Center for Immigration Studies. Memorandum, March 2012.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2012). United Nations Communications and Public Information Service, Geneva, Switzerland. Located at unhcr.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) (2015). Arlington, Va., refugees.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) (2015). Arlington, Va., refugees.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (2013). Path to Citizenship. Located at uscis.gov. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) (2015). Arlington, Va. Located at refugees.org. Retrieved Aug. 2015.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (2013). Path to Citizenship. Located at uscis.gov. Retrieved Aug. 2014.