IOM, UNHCR Support Resettlement of Refugees in South America


Brasília  Representatives from the Governments of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay participated in a roundtable discussion last week (25-26/09) to take stock of the Emerging Resettlement Countries Joint Support Mechanism (ERCM), a joint initiative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 

With the participation of governments, civil society, and host communities, ERCM has promoted in these countries, the strengthening of legal frameworks and selection procedures, the capacity building of resettlement institutions and the establishment of new forms of financing for this important lasting solution for refugees from around the world. 

ERCM member countries, with the support from IOM, UNHCR and their donors, are consolidating their resettlement processes by improving national and local reception and integration structures, promoting the self-sufficiency of resettled families and contributing to host communities. 

“Resettlement is an important protection tool. That is why we work in cooperation with governments, civil society and other partners to implement various resettlement, relocation, and humanitarian admission visa mechanisms in various countries,” explained IOM Chief of Mission in Brazil, Stéphane Rostiaux. “In 2018, for example, IOM supported around 30 countries in the implementation of these mechanisms, through which 95,000 refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations were assisted,” Rostiaux added. 

Participating countries examined good practices and identified possibilities for continuing their resettlement programmes. During the event, recommendations were made for the sustainability of resettlement programmes and for the establishment of complementary protection pathways for refugees in these countries. Many achievements were highlighted by participants during the round table. 

Brazil highlighted the implementation of the first resettlement programme funded with public resources, which has benefited refugee families from Central America. It has also been possible to advance in the development of a legal framework for resettlement and enable governments and other partners at the municipal level and in the host communities. 

In Argentina, ERCM has contributed to strengthening the legal framework and structuring selection procedures and guidance and health services by consolidating a community resettlement funding programme and a network of civil society institutions involved in this sponsorship modality – especially in attention to Syrian refugees. 

In Chile, the leadership and coordination of the government in implementing its resettlement programme achieved the integration and self-sufficiency of resettled refugees. The ERCM supported the selection and transportation of refugee families, as well as the strengthening of national and local reception and integration structures. 

Although not yet a formal member of ERCM, Uruguay has received support from UNHCR and IOM to improve family selection, transportation and reception processes, benefiting various nationalities. 

“ERCM is an initiative that has allowed us to build and strengthen resettlement in this region of South America. Much remains to be built, and we look forward to working together to continue to provide safe international protection environments for refugees, where they can access their rights and rebuild their lives in peace and in community,” said UNHCR Brazil Representative, José Egas. 

Possible ways to continue resettlement programmes were discussed and presented during the roundtable. Expanding solutions, including complementary resettlement avenues, focused on sharing responsibility – one of the central objectives of the Global Refugee Compact, signed by the United Nations in 2018. 

Planning for the next steps aims at greater engagement of different institutions with resettlement, from local, national and regional governments, to civil society, academia and the private sector. 

The event was attended by representatives of the donor countries of this initiative: The United States, Portugal, United Kingdom and Sweden, as well as other countries supporting similar initiatives, such as Canada and the European Union. Representatives of UNHCR, IOM, civil society organizations and local governments also participated in the roundtable. 

The Emerging Resettlement Countries Joint Support Mechanism is a three-year joint initiative of UNHCR and IOM, implemented in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile to provide technical and financial support to countries in establishing and strengthening resettlement programmes to ensure safe solutions for refugees and those in need of protection. 

For more information, please contact Juliana Hack, IOM Brasilia, Tel: + 55 61 3771 3772 Email:  

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  • Government representatives from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay participating in a roundtable discussion on the Emerging Resettlement Countries Joint Support Mechanism (ERCM). Photo: IOM 

  • Government representatives from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay participating in a roundtable discussion on the Emerging Resettlement Countries Joint Support Mechanism (ERCM). Photo: IOM