The world’s first Global Refugee Forum, a three-day event aimed at improving the world’s response to refugee situations, has opened in Geneva.
The event, which is jointly hosted by the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Swiss authorities, will be attended by United Nations (UN) leaders, heads of state, international institutions, development bodies, civil society representatives and refugees. Organisers hope that the Global Refugee Forum will provide a platform for stakeholders to explore and develop new policy solutions and commitments to support refugees: more than 70 million people around the world have been displaced from their homes by conflict or persecution; and more than 25 million of these live as refugees, defined as those who have left their country of origin and are unable to return.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “We are emerging from a decade of displacement during which refugee numbers have surged. 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 Forum will explore the ways in which humanitarian and development responses can be co-ordinated and how private sector bodies can contribute. The event will focus on six key fields:
- International sharing of responsibility for refugees and the burdens occasioned by taking in large numbers;
- Education provision;
- Supporting livelihoods and job creation for refugees and host communities;
- Shoring up energy grids and infrastructure;
- Increasing protection capacity; and
- Sharing solutions and best practice to address refugee issues.
Joelle Hangi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the refugee co-sponsors of the Forum, said: “We need more help like this. Already there are many examples of co-operation; but with refugee numbers rising, we need more people to give us their support: [we need] 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.”