European countries will receive more support from the EU to take up refugees under a new resettlement programme endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament on Wednesday.
The programme is to resettle in the EU people who have been granted refugee status in third countries , for example Libyan refugees in Tunisia.
As the host countries are often developing ones, with limited resources, they cannot integrate and protect large numbers of refugees, said an EP statement.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), over 172,000 people will need to be resettled in 2012, whereas the global number of resettlement places is only about 80,000.
In 2010, the EU resettled around 4,700 people, representing only 4.4% of those resettled worldwide that year, far behind the US (near 54,000 refugees) and Canada (around 6,700).
The programme’s main aim is to encourage EU Member States to take up refugees by enlarging the list of those whose resettlement will be financed by the European Refugee Fund.
Furthermore, the programme will set geographical priorities on a yearly basis. In 2013, these will cover, among others, Iraqi refugees in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan; Afghan refugees in Turkey, Pakistan and Iran; Congolese refugees in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia or Somali refugees in Ethiopia.
In line with EP proposals, EU financial support for resettling refugees in the above groups will be increased.
EU Member States currently receive EUR 4,000 per person resettled on their territory.
To encourage more EU countries to help in resettlement, Member States resettling refugees for the first time will get EUR 6,000 per person for the first year and EUR 5,000 per person for the second year. For the rest the sum received will stay at EUR 4,000.
The European Parliament as a whole will vote on the proposal on 29 March. If adopted, Member States will have until 1 May 2012 to send the European Commission an estimate of the number of persons they will resettle next year. The programme will apply in 2013.