Red Cross Statement on Complementary Pathways

Red Cross calls for Complementary Pathways at the Global Refugee Forum

Ahead of the Global Refugee Forum on 17-18 December, the undersigned National Red Cross Societies call on the Member States of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to demonstrate leadership in developing pathways to protection that are complementary to resettlement by:

    Championing accessible procedures for family reunification and overcoming the practical and legal obstacles that prevent or delay the reunification of family members. This will help ensure that people who are eligible for family reunification do not rely on other complementary pathways.

    Developing complementary pathways for the reunification of extended family members, while adhering to refugees’ right to family unity.

    Supporting the request of the European Parliament to develop a legislative proposal establishing a European Humanitarian Visa.

    Issuing humanitarian visas according to their national legislation in the absence of an established EU arrangement – especially for persons in vulnerable situations where no other safe avenue to protection is available. The issuing of a humanitarian visa should always lead to a durable solution.

    Examining sponsorship mechanisms that are additional to (and not a replacement of) governmental reception systems.

One year after the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees, the international community will gather at the Global Refugee Forum. The Forum is a crucial opportunity to take stock of the progress made so far and for EU and EFTA decision-makers to demonstrate their willingness to implement the commitments of the Compact, including by increasing the availability of complementary pathways.

Keeping in mind that sustainable solutions to refugee situations can only be achieved through international cooperation, we note that there were 25.4 million refugees in the world in 2018. Currently, only 1.6% of global resettlement needs are met by EU Member States. Resettlement is an important protection mechanism that must be further reinforced in a spirit of solidarity with refugee hosting regions. While we can observe some positive developments regarding resettlement opportunities for refugees in Europe,  this is insufficient  in view of the scale of global protection needs .

We call upon states to make tangible commitments in support of the Global Compact on Refugees to expand access to measures that provide protection and durable solutions for refugees. This should include commitments to implementing more systematic, organised and sustainable complementary pathways to international protection .

Complementary pathways should be developed in addition to resettlement commitments and on top of States’ existing commitments to respect access to asylum for persons in need of international protection. Such pathways should never replace the possibility to request asylum on the territory or at the borders of EU and EFTA Member States, nor serve to undermine refugee resettlement programmes. Instead, they should reinforce the international protection regime and expand the protection space. Such avenues include humanitarian admission, humanitarian visas, private or community sponsorship, complementary pathways for extended family members, and scholarships for higher education.

Many National Red Cross Societies have substantial expertise in facilitating access to complementary pathways. We stand ready to share our experiences and exercise our role as auxiliaries to the public authorities.

In the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees, we encourage states to stand in solidarity with refugees and host communities. We call on them to look beyond short-term political or economic objectives to promote diverse complementary pathways for refugees in need of protection, in partnership with civil society and other stakeholders.

This Statement has been endorsed by:

•    British Red Cross

•    Bulgarian Red Cross

•    Cyprus Red Cross

•    Finnish Red Cross

•    French Red Cross

•    Latvian Red Cross

•    Luxembourg Red Cross

•    Swedish Red Cross

•    Swiss Red Cross

•    Norwegian Red Cross