The Knowledge Brief Series is produced by the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub. The Briefs are intended to briefly summarize the global state of knowledge on topics related to community-based refugee sponsorship.
A growing number of countries have adopted community sponsorship programs, in part due to the unique and beneficial role that community members can play in the reception and support of sponsored refugees. One of the most important responsibilities undertaken by sponsors is ensuring that sponsored refugees have access to the services they need to settle in their community. Sponsors provide a number of these services directly, and also support sponsored refugees to connect with and navigate services offered by government and publicly funded organizations. This knowledge brief provides a high-level overview of access to services within CS programs globally, using a comprehensive review of relevant literature to respond to these questions: how are sponsors and sponsored refugees accessing services and working with service delivery partners on the ground, and what are some promising practices to ensure quality service access?
Community sponsorship is increasingly of interest to a number of states seeking to expand or enhance supports available for refugees. This knowledge brief illuminates one particular aspect of sponsorship often referred to as ‘secondary migration.’ It seeks to understand why some sponsored refugees choose to stay in their initial community of settlement, while others decide to move on during or shortly after the end of their sponsorship period. This brief uses a comprehensive review of relevant literature to respond to the following questions: what are the factors that lead to secondary migration of refugees and what impact, if any, does sponsorship have on these decisions for sponsored refugees? The brief begins with an overview of the available evidence on secondary migration for resettled refugees—both government-led and sponsored—before turning to an analysis of the unique push and pull factors inherent to sponsorship.
Historically, the trend has been for both government resettlement programs and community sponsorship schemes to rehome refugees in larger urban centres. However, as community sponsorship models have proliferated around the world, more rural and smaller communities have become involved in refugee settlement. While all newcomers require similar services —affordable housing, language training, public transportation, internet access, healthcare, and other services— communities and regions outside urban centres face specific challenges when welcoming and integrating refugees. Yet, despite these challenges, rural and smaller communities are actively participating in refugee sponsorship and finding creative ways around barriers. This knowledge brief examines the role of rural and small communities in sponsorship, the challenges and opportunities of rural resettlement, and strategies for rural and small places welcoming and integrating newcomers.
Complementary pathways are mobility options that are additional to the traditional solutions for people living in refugee or refugee-like circumstances, such as voluntary repatriation, resettlement in another country, or integration into a host community. International interest in complementary pathways has grown in the last decade, given the need for new solutions to respond to the increasing displacement of people around the world. This knowledge brief outlines the evidence base on sponsorship in the context of complementary pathways and identifies gaps and research directions that can advance the development of global, accessible, scalable, and community-supported complementary pathways, such as family reunification and humanitarian admission pathways. Three types of pathways are covered in this brief: pathways for named sponsorship, students, and workers.
Community Sponsorship is a shared endeavour in which the government, sponsor groups, volunteers, settlement provider agencies, and international organizations participate in the implementation, management, and monitoring of community sponsorship and humanitarian corridor programs. Sponsor groups typically take responsibility for ensuring that newcomers achieve certain integration outcomes, such as acquiring stable housing, learning the local language, and/or becoming self-sufficient. Without willing and able sponsor groups and volunteers, sponsorship programs cannot succeed. This brief provides a detailed overview of key elements identified in the literature outlining the process of recruiting sponsorship volunteers, forming sponsor groups, and developing capacities that contribute to the sustainability of sponsor groups.
This knowledge brief summarises current knowledge on the impact of community refugee sponsorship programs on public attitudes and social connections, exploring the idea that these are strongly linked. Local communities can become more inclusive and welcoming by mobilizing ordinary people to support refugee newcomers through sponsorship, and positive early interactions between new refugees and their sponsors can potentially play a role in transforming public attitudes towards refugees from negative or neutral to positive. Building social connections between refugee newcomers, sponsors and the broader host community is critical, as refugee newcomers who feel welcome are more likely to develop positive social relationships with their community. Even individuals with less positive attitudes towards refugees may support the development of community sponsorship programs to facilitate newcomers’ integration into the community. The transformative power of community sponsorship can be extended to national and international levels because these programs bring together a wide range of stakeholders in support of refugees, thus helping to mitigate often-polarised narratives.