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Resettlement Assistance

Resettlement is a sometimes unrecognized yet compelling instrument and symbol of international solidarity and burden sharing to find a durable solution for refugees who are unable to return to their country of origin for fear of continued persecution and do not have the option to stay in their country of asylum.

Founded in 1951 to assist in the resettlement of Europeans displaced in the aftermath of World War II, IOM has provided essential services in support of refugee resettlement operations for over six decades. In the last decade alone, IOM has organized resettlement movements of 892,243 refugees from 186 locations around the world.

IOM works closely with governments, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), non-government organizations and other partners. The process begins with UNHCR. UNHCR identifies, interviews and submits refugee cases to countries for resettlement consideration; subsequently, under cooperative agreements with those same countries, IOM resettlement services — Case processing, Health Assessments, Pre-Departure Orientation and Movement — take place. Upon arrival, resettlement countries provide refugees with legal and physical protection, including access to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals. Most refugees eventually become naturalized citizens of their country of resettlement.

IOM’s Vision

For more than 60 years, moving refugees to begin new lives with dignity and respect in a safe and orderly fashion has been and continues to be a fundamental purpose and priority of the Organization.

IOM’s Objectives

As part of its global contribution to migration management, IOM fosters refugee integration through comprehensive resettlement services. Article 1 of the IOM Constitution mandates the Organization to “… concern itself with the organized transfer of refugees, displaced persons and other individuals in need of international migration services for whom arrangements may be made between the Organization and the States concerned, including those States undertaking to receive them.”

IOM’s Approach

Upon the request of governments, IOM provides the following resettlement services:

  • Case Processing
  • Health Assessments and Travel Health Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation/Integration
  • Movement/Travel Operations

Case Processing. IOM Case Processing services are designed to 1) help refugee applicants in lodging correct and complete applications for refugee status and 2) assist governments by providing selection authorities with accurate, detailed and objective information in standard formats in order to streamline the interview and selection process.  A focus on intensive initial case preparation is aimed at reducing the number of times each case must be reviewed or deferred by selection authorities pending further information.

Health Assessments and Travel Health Assistance. Health Assessments and Travel Health Assistance ensures that refugees are fit to travel and meet the requirements of the resettlement country. Health assessments of refugees admitted for resettlement to third countries are funded and carried out at the request of resettlement countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and others. Health assessment protocols are based on the legislation and/or best practices of resettlement country governments, and are performed prior to a refugee’s departure for resettlement. Pre-departure refugee health assessments are intended to ensure that people travel in a safe and dignified manner, are fit to travel, receive appropriate assistance when required, and do not pose a hazard to other travelers or receiving communities.

Pre-Departure Orientation/Integration

  • Cultural orientation prepares refugees by providing practical information on country of destination, and assists refugees in setting realistic goals and developing the skills and attitudes needed to succeed in their new environment.
  • Pre-departure orientation is designed to assist refugees to develop realistic expectations and to become self-sufficient more quickly. Topics addressed in the orientation include housing, health, money management, role of settlement service providers, education, cultural adaptation, rights and responsibilities, and others.
  • Language and literacy training equips refugees with basic language and communication skills in order to facilitate the adjustment process and help refugees become more independent. With knowledge of these functional and practical skills, refugees are able to increase their chances for employment and become productive members of the receiving society.
  • Pre-embarkation briefings prepare refugees for their flight, including what to expect at the airport, in‐flight, while in transit, and upon arrival in country of destination. This helps first‐time travelers feel less anxious and more prepared for the journey.

Movement/Travel Operations. IOM’s movement and travel operations ensure that refugees are transported smoothly from remote, often far-flung locations to their final resettlement destinations. Movement services for refugees traveling under IOM auspices may include any or all of the following:

  • Obtaining travel documents: exit permits, transit/entry visas, passports, etc.
  • Pre-embarkation orientation: flight schedules, airline regulations, customs requirements, assistance in transit and upon arrival, etc.
  • Transportation to and passenger handling at embarkation airports: assisted check-in, help with customs and immigration formalities, etc.
  • Arrangement of international and domestic air tickets: reduced fares, preferential baggage allowances, selected routings, etc.
  • Provision of operational/medical escorts: help for passengers with special needs, monitoring and attending to medical requirements en route, liaison with flight staff and other authorities, etc.
  • Assistance in transit: meals and accommodation as needed, direction to connecting flights, booking adjustments, etc.
  • Arrival assistance: meet and assist services on arrival, notification and handover to reception authorities, etc.

Looking ahead at the evolving resettlement landscape, there will be increasingly more people forced to move who are not protected under the 1951 Refugee Convention, and finding good durable solutions will require the collaborative engagement of many actors across a range of services. IOM is well suited to meet the challenge, and assist governments to help refugees integrate successfully into receiving communities.

IOM's Assistance Over the Years
Year Number of IOM-assisted Migrants and Refugees
1960 1 million
1973 2 million
1980 ICEM becomes ICM
3 million
1985 4 million
1989 ICM becomes IOM
1990 5 million
1991 6 million
1993 7 million
1997 10 million
2000 11 million
2005 13 million
2008 15 million
2011 16 million
2013 17 million