The Swedish resettlement programme
A quota refugee is a person who has fled his or her home country and been selected by the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, to be resettled to a third country which offers them protection. This process is called resettlement.
Sweden has resettled refugees since 1950. The Swedish resettlement programme will help to resolve protracted refugee situations that are at risk of becoming permanent. It can also offer timely protection for people in vulnerable situations. Refugees who are selected for resettlement may be in refugee camps, but they may also be in cities or rural areas. Resettling in a third country may be the only solution for people who can neither remain in their first country of asylum nor return home. The process is administered by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
Most refugees are resettled from areas bordering on crises or conflict regions. Resettlement is therefore becoming an increasingly important action in the effort to prevent people from risking their lives in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean. Going forward, part of Sweden’s selection of refugees from North Africa will take place along the central Mediterranean route. By making resettlement an option during the passage through Africa or the Middle East, the UNHCR hopes to reduce the number of such accidents.
The UNHCR recommends two additional areas of focus. One is resettlement from Syria and the close region, mainly regarding Syrians in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. The other is refugees in Africa, particularly people from Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia. Furthermore, the UNHCR stresses that it is important for the Swedish refugee quota to include places for emergency cases and prioritized cases around the world.
How many refugees does Sweden resettle every year?
Each year, the Government and Parliament provide the Swedish Migration Agency with the resources to resettle a certain number of refugees to Sweden. The focus of the selections is determined by the Swedish Government but the Swedish Migration Agency, in collaboration with UNHCR, determines which refugee groups will be considered for resettlement from different countries.
Since 2018, Sweden has received 5,000 quota refugees every year. In 2021, the number was 6,401, which was a consequence of the corona pandemic. For 2023, the government has proposed that Sweden should receive fewer quota refugees, 900 in total.
Collaboration between several groups
The Swedish Migration Agency works together with several groups to ensure that resettlement goes as well as possible.
- UNHCR, who presents cases to the Swedish Migration Agency and assists with practical arrangements related to selection missions, among other things.
- Swedish embassies (or the Swedish Migration Agency) issue an exit permit or emergency alien’s passport”.
- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) arranges the refugees’ travel and transfer to Sweden.
- Sweden’s municipalities receiving quota refugees when they come to Sweden.