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In most European countries, refugee reception and resettlement have historically been highly-centralized government functions...Community groups, some formed in a matter of days or even hours, have sprung into action to give newcomers shelter, food, clothing and a sense of welcome. These initiatives have played a critical role in supplementing government reception and integration services that, in many countries, were overstretched by the unprecedented level of demand.
While largely born out of crisis, community-driven refugee settlement programs may also prove valuable to European asylum and protection systems in the longer term. Such initiatives can give members fo tthe public a greater sense of ownership and control over the humanitarian flows affecting their communities, while also offering civil society a chance to provide direct support to the displaced. Community engagement also plays an important role in facilitating refugee integration and social inclusion. Where such efforts supplement existing government-led humanitarian migration channels, the addition of the new resettlement places could also offer a managed route to safety for some refugees in first-asylum countries who might otherwise undertake onward journeys through other means.
This policy brief explores the potential community-driven resettlement and reception may hold for European countries. It begins by examining three models for applying these tools, and then considers the practical obstacles and roadblocks stakeholders may face when seeking to implement such solutions. The brief concludes by proposing several steps policymakers interested in pursuing sponsorship arrangements could consider.