UNHCR medewerker in gesprek met vluchtelingen

UNHCR: resettlement programme

Most refugees are staying in the region of their country of origin. They have shelter in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, or they have to rely on themselves. There are refugees who are eligible for resettlement because of their vulnerable situation. UNHCR proposes vulnerable refugees to resettlement countries, including the Netherlands.

Resettlement selection missions

The Dutch government determines annually in consultation with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) from which countries they will select refugees for resettlement. The UNHCR nominates refugees. The IND decides which refugees are eligible for resettlement. Annually, the IND organises 4 or 5 selection missions, mostly in the Middle East and Africa.

During the selection missions, the IND and the COA have interviews with the refugees. The IND assesses the flight narrative. The IND Medical Assessment Section carries out a medical examination. The COA draws up a resettlement profile of the refugees.

The COA: resettlement profile of refugees

During the interviews with refugees, the COA gives information about living in the Netherlands. We also assess whether resettlement is a sustainable solution for them and which specific guidance and support they need for their integration in the Netherlands. On the basis of this, we draw up a resettlement profile and make recommendations to the IND during selection.

Before arrival in the Netherlands: Cultural Orientation Training

Before they arrive in the Netherlands, the selected refugees take three four-day Cultural Orientation training sessions by the COA. In them, the refugees prepare for their integration and participation in the Netherlands. They receive their training in the refugee camp or urban area where they are staying.

  • COA-medewerker geeft Culturele Oriëntatie-training in Burundi
    © COA

Promising match with municipality

The COA matches resettling refugees with a municipality. Where do they have the best opportunities to build a new life and contribute to society? Ideally, we place several families in the same municipality. This will already give the resettled refugees a small social network and allows the municipality to arrange practical matters in one go for several newcomers.

After arrival in the Netherlands: 48 hours of guidance and support by the COA

Around 6 months after a selection mission, the resettling refugees come to the Netherlands. The COA guides and supports them the first 48 hours. The trainers of the Cultural Orientation Training welcome the refugees at Schiphol Airport and take them to a hotel in the area. Within 48 hours, we take care of the following matters:

  • establishing identity at the Aliens Police (AVIM)
  • picking up residence permits from the IND
  • registering with the Personal Records Database (BRP) of the municipality
  • the tuberculosis check at the municipal health service (GGD)

After this, we take the refugees to their home in the new municipality. There, the municipality and the Dutch Council for Refugees welcome the refugees and take over the support.

Social file and transfer to the municipality

Before refugees arrive in the Netherlands, the COA has contact with municipalities about housing. The COA compiles a social file for municipalities, containing a report of the Cultural Orientation Training and other background information about the refugee. This allows refugees to continue their integration and participation in the Netherlands immediately in the municipality.

Video hervestiging
© VluchtelingenWerk Nederland

Video on resettled refugees

How does resettlement of refugees work in the Netherlands? This introduction video (15 minutes) is a joint production by the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Dutch Council for Refugees, the COA and the IND. It briefly describes the full process of selection of resettled refugees up to the moment they live in the municipality.

Watch the video about resettlement

'Turkey-EU Joint Statement' and resettlement

In addition to the 500 refugees the Netherlands invites annually, our country works together on the resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey. In 2016, the European Union (EU) made a deal with Turkey: refugees who arrive on the Greek isles via Turkey have to go back to Turkey. For every refugee that is sent back, the EU resettles one Syrian refugee from Turkey. The Netherlands resettled over 4.000 Syrians between 2016 and 2020. Because of the corona pandemic, resettlement programmes were largely put on hold for a period. In the second half of 2021, the programmes were restarted.

The COA participates in selection missions in Turkey and gives refugees three days of Cultural Orientation Training. After arriving in the Netherlands, refugees stay in a COA reception centre until they are allocated a home in the municipality.