An emerging international trend is a renewed focus on civil society in order to successfully integrate resettled refugees. Community sponsorship is arguably among the most promising new approaches. The Belgian community sponsorship pilot project, which started in 2020, is a successful example.
In Belgium, community sponsorship means that a group motivated citizens is committed to receiving and guiding resettled refugees during their first year in Belgium. Committed civil society hosts play an active and meaningful role in the reception and integration process for vulnerable newcomers.
The programmes’ inherent flexibility makes it possible to apply the concept in very different situations while adapting them to the local, regional or national context. In Canada, for example, refugees already in Canada may decide on their own to sponsor specific individuals to help family members in need.
Community sponsorship programmes’ main objectives are diversification of legal and safe routes for people in need of international protection; to foster and develop the expertise of civil society actors; to strengthen capacity in society and contribute to developing a positive image of refugees and newcomers.
Last but not least, the Belgian programme aims to promote the integration process for newcomers and their anchoring in the local community through neighbourhood involvement. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) encourages all countries to develop sponsorship programmes to increase global capacity.
Lisa Bosser, project coordinator
+32 470 02 50 16
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