A three-day global gathering aimed at transforming the way the world responds to refugee situations starts today in Geneva, Switzerland.
The first-ever Global Refugee Forum brings together refugees, heads of state and government, UN leaders, international institutions, development organizations, business leaders and civil society representatives, among others, at the Palais des Nations, the home of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
UNHCR is co-hosting the Forum together with Switzerland, and it is being co-convened by Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Germany, Pakistan, and Turkey. The aim of the Forum is to generate new approaches and long-term commitments from a variety of actors to help refugees and the communities in which they live. Worldwide, over 70 million people are displaced by war, conflict, and persecution. More than 25 million of them are refugees, having fled across international borders and unable to return to their homes.
“We are emerging from a decade of displacement during which refugee numbers have surged,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“This week, at the first ever Global Refugee Forum, we must focus our efforts in the coming decade on building upon what we have learned and committing action to support refugees and the countries and communities hosting them. This Forum is an opportunity to attest our collective commitment to the Global Compact on Refugees and rally behind the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no one behind.”
The Global Compact on Refugees paves the way for everyone to take responsibility and play a role, including all levels of government, the private sector, development agencies and financial institutions, civil society, faith groups, and refugees themselves.
The contributions made at the Forum are expected to include financial, technical, and material assistance; legal and policy changes to enable greater inclusion of refugees in society; resettlement places, and the safe return for refugees as part of solutions.
“We need more help like this,” said Joelle Hangi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is one of the Forum’s refugee co-sponsors. “Already there are many examples of cooperation – but with refugee numbers rising, we need more people to give us their support, more governments, companies, and communities to share the responsibility of helping refugees. That is how we will regain our freedom and independence and repay those who came to our aid.”
The three days of discussions, special events, and high-level dialogues in Geneva will focus on six key areas: arrangements for burden and responsibility sharing; education; jobs and livelihoods; energy and infrastructure; solutions; and protection capacity. There will be many opportunities for sharing a number of initiatives and good practices demonstrating how the Global Compact on Refugees can make a difference.
The Forum will also examine how humanitarian and development responses can complement one another. Additionally, in a sign of the increasingly important role of the private sector, more than 100 companies and foundations are attending and are set to make pledges around jobs, finance and other assistance.