Global Refugee Forum starts in Geneva

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World gathering on refugees opens in Geneva after decade of displacement

The three-day long Global Refugee Forum aiming to transform the world’s response to refugee situations has started at the Palais des Nations, the home of the United Nations Office in Geneva.

The first-ever Global Refugee Forum co-hosted by UNHCR and Switzerland, and co-convened by Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Germany, Pakistan, and Turkey kicked off on Tuesday.

The aim of this forum is to generate new approaches, and long-term commitments from a variety of actors to help refugees and their communities. 

The three days of discussions, special events, and high-level dialogues will focus on six key areas: arrangements for burden and responsibility sharing, education, jobs and livelihoods, energy and infrastructure, solutions, and protection capacity. 

War, conflict, and persecution displaced over 70 million people worldwide, and more than 25 million refugees fled across international borders.

While talking about this alarming refugee situation, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “We are emerging from a decade of displacement during which refugee numbers have surged.” 

It was mentioned in the forum that in Asia, there are 4.2 million refugees, among which 2.7 million are internally displaced people (IDPs), and 2.2 million are stateless. 

Asia is also home to the stateless Rohingya population from Myanmar, approximately 745,000 of whom fled to Bangladesh in 2017. The Rohingya refugee population in Cox’s Bazar, currently stands at some 900,000 people. 

Grandi added: “Solutions to this crisis remain elusive. However, robust engagement, and support are required to help ensure that these men, women, and children do not end up spending generations in exile.”

Also, Afghans with an estimated 2.7 million registered refugees remain the largest and longest displaced refugee population in the region, hosted by the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan. 

“The governments of the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan with UNHCR launched a Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) in order to enhance coordination and partnerships for the Afghan crisis,” he said.

Grandi furthered that this Forum is an opportunity to attest a 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 paved 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.

“We need more people to give us their support, more governments, companies, and communities to share the responsibility of helping refugees,” said Joelle Hangi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is one of the Forum’s refugee co-sponsors.