- Global crises, from Sahel to Afghanistan, displaced 114 million, including 36 million refugees
- Nations target one million refugee resettlements by 2030, backed by a new global fund.
- Refugee involvement prioritized, with 100+ organizations pledging inclusion in governing boards and decisions
- Google, Meta, and major tech firms unite for a Digital Protection pledge, dedicating resources to combat misinformation and hate speech against displaced communities.
During the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) held from December 13-15, the United States revealed 26 distinct commitments across eight multi-stakeholder pledges, showcasing leadership in addressing the needs of refugees and host communities amidst this historic era of displacement. This marked a significant contribution at the largest international gathering on refugees.
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In contrast to the 2019 GRF, where over 1,400 pledges and initiatives were made to achieve the goals outlined in the Global Compact on Refugees, the current status reveals a shortfall in fulfillment, with only a third reported as successfully implemented, highlighting the persisting challenges in meeting these commitments four years later.
The inception of consultations for the Global Compact on Refugees in 2016 coincided with a global forced displacement figure of 65.6 million. However, each subsequent year has set a new record for the highest number of displaced persons ever recorded. As of December 2023, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than 130 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced or stateless, underlining the alarming and unprecedented escalation of global forced displacement.
Wrap-up of the Global Refugee Forum
Addressing the conclusion of the Global Refugee Forum, the Secretary-General-Mr. Guterres underscored that safeguarding and assisting the most vulnerable individuals among us is a collective responsibility shared by the entire human race. He emphasized the severe strain on resources dedicated to supporting refugees, particularly in the Global South, which disproportionately shoulders the burden of this responsibility.
In a tweet, he reflected on a year marked by intense political discord, conflicts, and climate-related disasters, leading to an unprecedented surge in the number of people seeking refuge. From the Sahel to Afghanistan, Syria to Yemen, and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Myanmar and Somalia, the Secretary-General pointed out that humanitarian crises had fueled the displacement of 114 million people, with 36 million classified as refugees.
“I am grateful to you all for bringing this spirit of togetherness, unity, and cooperation to the Global Refugee forum, for it is this that is necessary if we are to make a difference for the 114 million people, including the 36 million refugees, around the world forced from their homes.”-Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Commitments to the collective well-being
GRF’s Commitments at a glance
- Ensure economic inclusion and access to livelihoods for refugees;
- Support refugee children’s education needs, mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.
- Ease pressure on host countries by expanding refugee resettlement and complementary pathways.
- Address rising needs through scaled up, multi-year funding for refugee response.
- Shift power and resources to refugee-led and women-led organisations.
Nations committed to the resettlement of one million refugees by 2030, bolstered by a fresh global sponsorship fund. This fund is designed to facilitate an extra three million refugees in reaching third countries through inventive community sponsorship initiatives.
“I struggled many times to take my children and leave Afghanistan, but I couldn’t find any chance to go legally. I heard about smugglers, that they can help. But one of my close friends’ sisters sank in the water and died. I decided it’s not the way to save my life. I prefer to die in Afghanistan, not in the water outside… Thankfully, Germany accepted me on a humanitarian admission visa. When we left Afghanistan we were not happy, but we were safe… Nobody is happy to leave their country. But when people need help, we have a responsibility to provide them with a safe route.”
Samira, 42-year-old Afghan woman living in Germany
The spotlight was on refugee involvement, with over 100 organizations pledging to champion meaningful engagement. This involves including refugees on governing boards and incorporating them into decisions that directly affect their lives. This action is perceived as an essential stride towards acknowledging and harnessing the valuable perspectives and contributions of displaced individuals.
In an effort to promote self-reliance among refugees, the United States affirms its commitment to the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative (RSI) in Bangladesh, Colombia, and Kenya. Through diplomatic channels and financial support, the U.S governmental entities, private sector partners, development actors, government agencies, and civil society organizations, with the collective goal of positively impacting two million households by 2027.
In a collaborative effort, major technology companies such as Google and Meta united to create a Digital Protection pledge, committing to allocate additional resources to comprehend, tackle, and prevent misinformation and hate speech directed at displaced and stateless communities.
Recognizing a concerning rise in the risk of trafficking and exploring alternatives to child detention, Siobhán Mullally, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, declared a pledge supported by the UNHCR. The goal is to improve protection mechanisms, reducing the vulnerability of refugees and migrants to trafficking. Additionally, there is a commitment to finding alternatives to the detention of refugee, asylum-seeking, and migrant children.
Inside the Most Urgent Refugee Crises Worldwide
Commencing in August 2017, more than 1 million Rohingya, who are stateless, sought refuge due to persistent violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. A significant number continue to reside in the largest refugee camp globally, situated in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The Rohingya population constitutes the majority of the 1.26 million refugees who have been displaced from Myanmar in the past six years.
Collaborating with UN agencies, a coalition of over 130 local, national, and international nonprofit organizations, including Concern, has actively assisted the Government of Bangladesh in adapting to the surge in capacity resulting from this humanitarian crisis.
More than 4 million South Sudanese individuals have been compelled to abandon their residences, and out of that number, 2.2 million have been compelled to flee the country altogether.
Attention has been focused on South Sudan since it achieved independence in 2011, aiming to tackle the persisting humanitarian challenges and the strain caused by extensive displacement. A significant presence is maintained in various host communities for South Sudanese refugees, spanning Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the DRC.
February 2022 witnessed an intensification of the conflict in Ukraine, resulting in a profound humanitarian crisis that forced more than 5.8 million refugees to flee within the past two years. This accounts for over 13% of the nation’s population and nearly 20% of the global refugee population.
Ukraine became a focal point for Concern’s humanitarian efforts in 2022 as conflict escalated. Initial response involved working in neighboring host communities like Poland and Romania, but later transitioned operations to Ukraine itself, where the humanitarian needs were most critical.
The persistent crisis in Afghanistan has positioned it among the primary sources of refugees, with one in every five refugees hailing from this nation. Currently, more than 6.1 million Afghans find themselves displaced globally, with a significant concentration in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
Afghanistan has been a focal point of concern for over two decades, and it has recently been selected by the UN as a key partner for emergency response in addressing displacement, particularly in the northeastern region of the country.
As step into 2024, Syria maintains its status as the globe’s most significant refugee crisis, constituting almost a quarter of the entire worldwide refugee population. By mid-2023, 6.49 million Syrians have sought shelter, predominantly in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Türkiye. In Lebanon, the absence of formal camps results in more than 1 million Syrians residing across 2,000 communities, frequently in cramped temporary shelters.
- Total Displaced: 537,000
- Percentage of Population: 15%
- Increase from 2022: +36,000
Central African Republic
- Registered Refugees: 750,000
- Internal Displacement: 1000+
- Duration of Crisis: Over a decade
- Somali Refugees: 814,000
- Notable Program: Cash Consortium – $16 million distributed to 300,000+ people
Democratic Republic of Congo
- Total Displacement: Highest in Africa
- Refugees: 948,000
- Increase in Two Years: +100,000
- Global Sudanese Refugees (2022): 844,000
- Mid-2023 Refugees: 1.02 million
In the aftermath of the Global Refugee Forum, the world stands witness to a momentous chapter in the ongoing narrative of global forced displacement. The challenges persist, but the unity displayed in the face of adversity paves the way for a more inclusive, compassionate, and resilient world—one where the dignity and well-being of every displaced individual are prioritized. As we reflect on the commitments made and the challenges ahead, let us carry forward the spirit of collaboration and empathy, recognizing that our collective actions today shape the future for generations to come.