Complementary pathways are safe and regulated avenues that complement refugee resettlement and by which refugees may be admitted in a country and have their international protection needs met while they are able to support themselves to potentially reach a sustainable and lasting solution. They do not only offer refugees with alternatives to resorting to irregular means and dangerous onward movement, but they can also facilitate the acquisition and retention of skills that can help refugees attain a sustainable solution in the future.
Complementary pathways are not meant to substitute the protection afforded to refugees under the international protection regime, including through resettlement but rather complement it and serve as an important expression of global solidarity and international cooperation and a contribution to more equitable responsibility sharing.
Complementary pathways must be carefully designed and implemented in such a way that the rights of refugees and continuing international protection needs are safeguarded. UNHCR works with States, civil society, private sector, academia, governmental organizations and refugees to identify, establish and expand complementary pathways for admission to third countries that will meet the continuous international protection needs of refugees.
There has been increased interest in complementary pathways as a result of the Global Compact on Refugees. Collective efforts have been made in defining pathways and related protection considerations and safeguards, as laid out in UNHCR’s Complementary Pathways for Admission of Refugees to Third Countries: Key Considerations and a focus on data and evidence, such as the Safe Pathways OECD-UNHCR Study on third-country solutions for refugees.