Refugee Sponsorship

A group of governments have recently taken a stand and have committed to support an approach to refugee resettlement that harnesses the strength of people in their communities. Government representatives from Canada, Spain, UK, Ireland, Argentina and New Zealand, who are responsible for immigration fully endorsed the community-based refugee sponsorship program.

Global displacement is at a ‘record high, with the number of internally displaced at over 40 million and the number of refugees more than 22 million.’ IOM

What is Community – based sponsorship?  

Community – based sponsorship happens through ordinary people in a community helping newly arrived refugee families integrate into their new communities. Since 1979, Canada has been in support of the private sponsorship of refugees. An impressive ‘one in every three Canadians has helped resettle almost 300,000 people—with demonstrably more successful socioeconomic outcomes than traditional schemes where the state or local authorities try to take a lead role.’ OSF

The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative

The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) has been building the global support for community – based refugee resettlement since 2016. This international multi-stakeholder initiative was led by the Government of Canada, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the University of Ottawa, the Radcliffe Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. 

Canadian model

The Canadian model clearly defines that private sponsors provide the cost of rent, food, household utilities and living expenses. In addition to providing

    • providing clothing, furniture, and other household goods;

    • locating interpreters;

    • selecting a family physician and dentist;

    • assisting with applying for provincial health care coverage;

    • enrolling children in school and adults in language training;

    • introducing newcomers to people with similar personal interests;

    • providing orientation with regard to banking services, transportation, etc.; and

Services are listed that the Canadian Government recognizes as helping refugees to integrate quickly.

    • language assessment and training to achieve settlement and integration goals;

    • support to build networks in communities: build connections between newcomers and community members, public institutions, employers and community organizations; one-on-one and group mentoring with established immigrants and/or long-time Canadians; and child and youth leadership and peer support projects; and

  • information and orientation and help in finding and retaining employment.

(Ref Government of Canada)

Global Refugee Sponsorship Guidebook

A guidebook has been made available through the Global Refugee Sponsorship website. Within the book, information has been shared which is based on the Canadian model for community – based sponsorship. In addition to encouraging people to engage with resettlement through groups or as sponsors. It highlights how support can be given in numerous ways such as emotional and financial.

An emphasis has been placed on people working together within their community to support newly arrived refugees during their integration into their new country. Community – based sponsorship also involves these communities working in close partnership with their government. Essentially, this has been found to be integral to the success of the program, as it helps people to overcome the challenges that they may face.

Community-based sponsorship Argentina

A recent newsletter from the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative shares updates from a sponsor who reflects on their experience of sponsoring a Syrian refugee in Argentina.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in welcoming refugees into your community?

‘One of the major challenges we faced was the attitude towards refugees we encountered among some of the sponsors and institutions in charge of welcoming them…. a lot of people didn’t understand the difference between a refugee and an immigrant…. another issue was the lack of guidelines on economic support. The word ‘necessity’ can mean something different to a refugee than it does a sponsor’ Global Refugee Sponsorship News

My Heart Feature Documentary Film

A documentary that showcases the need for refugee sponsorship programs has been made by Canadian Director Debra Kellner. My Heart has been produced by Frank Giustra, Serge Lalou, and Richard Copans, with the support of philanthropist Frank Giustra’s Radcliffe Foundation. The documentary aims to humanise the global refugee crisis. Frank Giustra experienced the plight of refugees while visiting Greece. Drawing from this experience the film follows the stories of several people searching for safety after fleeing the conflict in their countries of origin. The film shares refugee narratives and is titled Inside My Heart.

Read More

Global refugee sponsorship initiative

Open Society Foundations. 

Radcliffe Foundation

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