New Report Shows International Refugee Resettlement System, Without Action, will Likely Fail Those in Greatest Need 

October 15, 2020

New York CityA new Church World Service report issued this week finds that the majority of the world’s 1.4 million in need of resettlement are unlikely to be resettled under the current system. The Future of Refugee Resettlement and Complementary Pathways: Strengthening Sustainable and Strategic Solutions for Refugees names international political challenges and significant structural and operational barriers as key causes of limited resettlement. The report further offers recommendations as to how resettlement and complementary pathways can and should be strengthened.

CWS notes that there are reportedly over 79.5 million displaced people worldwide, 29.6 million of which are refugees and half of whom are children. Fewer than 1% of refugees are generally resettled to a third country. Resettlement is the last resort when refugees cannot safely return to their home countries and cannot safely remain in the countries to which they initially fled. Without a successfully operation resettlement program, those in the greatest need will remain in danger.


“There are key reasons why the resettlement system is failing those in need, but there is no reason why we should sit idly by as it continues to do so. This report demonstrates how resettlement and complementary pathways can and should be strengthened,” said Erol Kekic, Senior Vice President at Church World Service. “We must ensure refugees and civil society are more involved. We must offer better ways for those running the system to coordinate with one another. We must provide funding with predictable, and sustainable commitments. If we do not commit ourselves to these goals then we will not be able to offer a path forward for those who need it most.”

Today’s report notes that there are a wide range of challenges confronting the refugee resettlement system, from growing numbers of refugees in need of long-term solutions, to funding deficits, to increasingly restrictive immigration policies of resettlement countries. Resettlement processes have become, in many cases, so administrative and bureaucratic that even refugees selected and approved for resettlement must wait months or years in precarious conditions to be resettled. 

The Future of Refugee Resettlement and Complementary Pathways was informed by CWS’s observations and experiences as a key resettlement partner of the USRAP both overseas and in the United States. Findings were also based on 23 semi-structured interviews with experts and partners from policy, academic, and practice-oriented perspectives, among other sources.

For more information, or to speak to Kekic, contact