When neither return nor integration into host societies is a viable solution, resettlement of refugees to third countries is an alternative. According to the UNHCR, ‘resettlement is the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another State that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement’. The number of countries admitting refugees via resettlement has traditionally been small and the places provided largely insufficient compared to identified needs. According to its mandate, the UNHCR is in charge of identifying refugees in need of resettlement; once this has been done, it assists those who have been accepted for making the shift. The annual number of resettled refugees is only around 1 % of the total number of refugees in the world. Refugees identified as being in need of resettlement are usually those in dangerous and vulnerable situations, who have particular problems that cannot be addressed in their host country. The resettlement quotas provided by participating countries are lower than the number of persons proposed by the UNHCR for resettlement (75 000 in in 2017 compared to 170 000 the previous year). In 2017, there was also a 54 % drop in resettlement places year on year, mainly due to the fact that the US, which is the main recipient, had significantly reduced its admission of resettled refugees.
As Figure 3 above clearly shows, the number of countries that accept a significant number of refugees for resettlement is quite small, with the US, Canada, UK and Australia topping the list, followed by several European countries. Participating countries from other continents are very few and their quotas low.