OTTAWA, December 15, 2016 – The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative met in Ottawa this week for a three-day launch event that brought together 90 participants, including sponsorship groups, international delegates, partners and government officials interested in Canada’s private sponsorship model for refugees.
There are close to 1.2 million refugees around the world in critical need of resettlement. The addition of a private sponsorship program alongside existing government-assisted ones has the potential to significantly increase resettlement places for vulnerable refugees. Private sponsorship plays an important role in facilitating the integration of newly arrived refugees thanks to the support and engagement of individuals, community organizations, faith-based groups, NGOs, private companies and resettled refugee families.
The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative is led by the Government of Canada, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the University of Ottawa, the Radcliffe Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. During this week’s meetings, participants met with more than 30 experts from Canadian civil society, sponsors and sponsored-refugees, to discuss the Canadian model, share lessons and develop advice for other countries looking to develop private sponsorship of refugees programs.
In attendance at the conference were representatives from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as a variety of other stakeholders from around the world. They discussed Canada’s private sponsorship model and how it could be adapted and supported in other countries’ contexts.
Throughout the conference, participants discussed the need for champions in other countries to generate support for private sponsorship programs and the need to engage civil society in building and growing these programs. They also committed to working together to make sure that the global narrative on refugees is a positive one.