A record number of people are displaced by violent conflict and disasters around the world. By the end of 2017, there were 68.5 million people forced to move from their homes to locations within or outside their borders. More than 25 million of them, sometimes our neighbors, friends, relatives or acquaintances, are refugees.
Eighty-four percent of these refugees live in developing countries. Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda, Ethiopia, Jordan, DR Congo and Kenya have all committed, along with all Member States, in the New York Declaration of September 2016, ’to a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees, while taking account of existing contributions and the differing capacities and resources among States’.
So, other Member States surely need to do more too...
The centrality of international cooperation and partnership on burden-and responsibility-sharing for the refugee protection regime cannot be under-estimated. Both the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) that is currently being piloted in 14 countries, and the draft Global Compact for Refugees (GCM) are welcome instruments raising the bar of support to refugees and host communities. Predictable and stronger partnership is obviously required for their implementation, in line with host country leadership and ownership.
We should cultivate partnerships with the private sector, research institutions and faith based organizations and, above all, with refugees themselves and their host communities.
But partnership must also go beyond host, countries of origin and third country resettlements. We have talked and written a lot about humanitarian and development partnership – now is the time to walk the talk and demonstrate that the new way of working can focus on creating solutions for refugees and collective outcomes.
With 31 people newly displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution, the work of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is more important than ever before. Our strong bond with UNHCR, working together in more than 20 countries in support of refugees, other displaced populations and host communities, is helping member states address the root causes of forced displacement, be it through conflict prevention, good governance, climate change adaptation or improved access to economic opportunities. In addition, we are supporting refugees and other vulnerable communities to cope, recover and sustain development gains in the short to long term.
For example, together with UNHCR, other UN agencies and Civil Society Organizations:
- By the end of 2017, UNDP Turkey helped 2,000 Syrian refugees and host community members establish an organic olive oil processing facility. Over 8,500 Syrian men and women in host communities benefited from empowerment and social cohesion activities in 13 different multi-purpose community centers; and close to 5,500 Syrians, 45% of them women, attended vocational training courses in more than 20 different occupations, basic life skills and Turkish language trainings.
- In Zambia, UNDP and UN partner agencies are working with the Government to strengthen the resilience of refugees and host communities and bring about social, cultural and economic integration. Through the programme, Angolan and Rwandan refugees receive permanent residency in Zambia, allowing allocation of land, greater freedom of movement and the opportunity to work alongside the host communities.
- In Iraq, UNDP has implemented over 25 infrastructure rehabilitation or construction projects, such as electricity, water or sanitation, roads and health clinics in both refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP)’ camps and host communities, to meet increased demand. Support to access basic services has benefitted over 72,000 refugees, IDPs and host community members. Partnerships with the local government have enhanced ownership of the infrastructure and ensured sustained maintenance.
Today, as we celebrate World Refugee Day, let’s commit to address the root causes forcing people to move out of their countries of origin, and wherever they have moved, offer them protection. Let’s commit to strong, results-based, partnerships and collaboration in support of refugees everywhere. Together we can do more and better.