A world in which refugees are welcome

Inclusive approaches

A world in which refugees are welcome

19 June 2024
the mayor shakes hands with a 29 year old refugee - they are standing under a tree and smiling together

For Mayor Paulo Alexandre Fernandes, welcoming refugees and migrants to Fundão, his small city in eastern Portugal,  is an act of solidarity and part of the solution to a demographic downturn that has seen the area’s population tumble. “We do not see them as refugees,” he said. “We see them as new citizens of Fundão, we want them to feel at home.”

This World Refugee Day, we are all encouraged to show solidarity with, and find solutions for refugees, in order to achieve a world where they are welcomed.

With 117.3 million people globally – 1.5 percent of the world’s population – forcibly displaced, by the end of 2023, the scale of the challenge is staggering. However, there is still cause for hope. Today, we celebrate some of the work being done by the various States and other stakeholders contributing to the advancement of the Global Compact on Refugees, through the multi-stakeholder pledges announced at the Global Refugee Forum in 2023. These efforts highlight some of the progress being made while reflecting on areas where support is still needed.

The daughter is sitting on her mother's lap, looking into the camera, the mother is looking at her daughter and smiling

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Welcome in a new home

In many countries around the world, the greatest demonstration of solidarity and the best long-term solution is welcoming refugees through resettlement and complementary pathways.

These solutions are most effective when they are designed with refugees, so it is heartening to see so many individual commitments towards the Multi-Stakeholder Pledges including refugees in all stages of pledge planning and implementation.

 


Elena, a refugee from Honduras living in Guatemala with her family, attends a biweekly cooking class with a group of women in her neighbourhood. The women's empowerment group organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food, is about more than just learning new recipes. It's a source of unity and connection with other women who share similar experiences.

© UNHCR/Nicolo Filippo Rosso

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The Skills-Based Complementary Pathways Multi-Stakeholder Pledge, led by the Global Task Force on Third Country Education and the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility, seeks to recognise the skills and knowledge refugees have, offering higher education opportunities to promising students, employment pathways for skilled workers, and sports sponsorship for athletes, ensuring they are welcomed into their new communities.

Access to higher education, vital for ensuring displaced people can achieve their full academic potential, will be expanded and new pathways have been pledged by States including Canada, the United States of America, and Japan. These are supported and enabled by commitments such as those from Nexus 3.0, Jigsaw Education, Refugee-led Research Hub, the Shapiro Foundation, Korean Refugee Research Network and Duolingo. The latter is offering free and low-cost English tests, enabling refugees to prove competencies digitally, minimising travel and test costs.

Meanwhile, in support of pathways for skilled workers, BRAC have committed to enact an inclusive livelihood model to engage 45,000 Rohingya and host community households to support labour mobility through self-reliance; Talent Beyond Boundaries have pledged to set up skills-based pathways in 27 countries and train partner organisations; World University Service of Canada is expanding employment opportunities and economic mobility pathways; and HIAS are employing a skills database to register displaced people in Israel and the Americas, to refer profiles to Canada.

All these commitments are vital in supporting those made by States to expand skills-based pathways, such as Uruguay, Italy, and Germany’s pledges on labour mobility, and Ireland, Belgium, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Paraguay’s in support of complementary pathways.

But funding is needed too, and among other commitments, Australia pledged AUD 2 million to support access to safe pathways

Additionally, sports pathways pledges have been made by WUSC, the Yusra Mardini Foundation, Olympic Refugee Foundation, Courbertin meets Dunant, and the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee. 

Through education, employment, and sport opportunities, more than 3 million displaced people and host community members are set to benefit.

3 million people

In 48 countries so far set to benefit from the Complementary Pathways Multi-Stakeholder Pledge*

The Community Sponsorship Multi-Stakeholder Pledge, led by the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, has seen ten State pledges committing to develop, continue, or expand existing programmes. These empower groups of individuals to welcome refugees and others in need of international protection into their communities. This includes a programme being piloted in Brazil in 2024, alongside pledges from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the UK, and the USA. The European Union also committed to expanding community sponsorship, including through funding. These pledges are supported by commitments from faith-based organisations, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society.

The recently launched inaugural Global Sponsorship Fund looks to address the funding challenges faced in implementing and scaling up sponsorship programmes, and already amounts to EUR 1,000,000. Funded by the Government of Italy, the Government of the USA, the Robert Bosch Foundation, Pathways International, Jesuit Refugee Service, Open Community Ireland, and HIAS, this innovative financing tool aims to support this initiative.

All this work will be strengthened by the joint pledge from 15 civil society organizations across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and the Pacific, who have committed to enhancing their information sharing and capacity building on community sponsorship via the GRSI Global CSO Network. They will improve the data and evidence collected, welcoming refugees into national data systems to improve access to employment, and health and educational systems, among others.

80% of pledges

towards community sponsorship support inclusion of refugees in programme design and evaluation

EUR 1,000,000

towards the Global Sponsorship Fund

The Family Reunification Multi-Stakeholder Pledge seeks to reunite refugee families, welcoming family members of those already resettled, and ensuring more refugees can make their host countries their homes. The pledge has a leadership group made up of the Governments of Brazil and Portugal, Cultuur in Harmonie, DLA Piper, RefugePoint, and the OECD, and is supported by the Global Family Reunification Network Advisory Group (FRUN AG) – a real multi-stakeholder approach. 

As part of this, States pledged to improve birth registration for newborn refugees in Uganda, support family reunification integration services in Wales and Scotland, extend deadlines for applications for displaced families in Lithuania, and promote actions aimed at ensuring family reunification by the Forum of Conares of Mercosur and Associated Countries in the Americas. 

Other pledges included those from DLA Piper, who have promised 1,500 pro bono hours to family reunification, the Shapiro Foundation which has committed to help pledge implementation through financing and donor engagement, and Iberia Airlines, who will work with UNHCR Spain to facilitate free transfer of refugees and their families to Spain, including for family reunification. 

Several civil society entities, most notably refugee-led organizations (RLOs), have highlighted the need for more funds and help with fundraising.

500,000 displaced people

and more could already be supported with family reunification

1 million refugees

aimed to be reunited with their families by 2030

The Resettlement Multi-Stakeholder Pledge works towards the third objective of the Global Compact on Refugees (to expand access to third-country solutions), while providing durable solutions for refugees, and enhancing responsibility sharing between States to support larger host countries.

Many States have shown renewed commitments to expand resettlement, and a wide range of stakeholders – including civil society organisations, faith-based actors, private sector, international organisations, academics, and cities – committed to amplify advocacy to grow resettlement and increase LGBTQI+ refugee pathways.

New resettlement programmes were pledged by Argentina, Brazil, and Lithuania, while States including Australia, Belgium, USA, Canada, EU, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and the UK pledged to increase their resettlement quotas.

Regional and situation-specific pledges have been made, including support from Amnesty International Australia and the Governments of Australia, Canada and the USA for Rohingya refugees to access resettlement pathways; for Afghan refugees by ICMPD, Terre d’Asile France and the EU; and for refugees in the Americas by Niskanen Center, Mercosur, the USA, and Canada.

This month is also Pride Month in many countries, and Sweden, Rainbow Railroad, the USA, HIAS and Canada pledged to increase access to resettlement programmes for LGBTQI+ refugees.

Finally, pledges were made towards post-arrival settlement, integration, and participation – part of the complete welcome for which today calls. A wide range of stakeholders, from DLA Piper and the Episcopal Church, IOM, Forum Réfugiés, Jesuit Services Portugal, Reach Clinic Saskatoon, Settlement Council Australia, Kingston Council, International Students Overcoming War (ISOW), the Synagogue Congregation B’nai Emunah, and Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha pledged to welcome and support refugees who have been resettled.

1.7 million people

estimated set to benefit from resettlement commitments made so far

A group of students from Maskall Primary School listen to German, the school principal

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To welcome, not leave waiting

For all the resettlement and complementary pathway programmes mentioned above to be successful, refugees need access to travel documents which will allow them to leave and reenter their country of asylum, effective asylum systems, and to be included in effective statistical systems.

 


"As a Salvadoran child seeking asylum, sitting in a room in a school, I never dreamed I would be a school principal. For me, it is a great personal achievement, but also to be able to show the Belizean community that we [refugees] can contribute to the development of the country." - German, school principal and former refugee

© UNHCR/Jeoffrey Guillemard

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Refugees need access to machine-readable travel documents which grant them safe departure and return to countries of asylum. The Travel Documents Multi-Stakeholder Pledge set out to have concrete commitments from at least 15 States to start providing travel documents or improve related laws and policies in existing systems, a target already achieved. So far, 23 pledges have been made, including nine States – Botswana, Chad, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, and South Sudan – committing to start issuing the documents, which will unlock access to travel documents for over 2.5 million refugees, three States – Burkina Faso, Uganda and Kenya – pledging to improve their systems affecting over 2 million refugees, and these are supported by pledges from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Secure Identity Alliance, and ID4Africa.

106+ million

targeted beneficiaries across all travel document programmes

The Asylum Capacity Support Group is an initiative founded by the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), focussed on strengthening national asylum systems, which launched the Asylum Capacity Multi-Stakeholder Pledge to further this aim.

So far, 53 individual pledges have been made towards this, the majority submitted by States including Eswatini, Panama, and Mexico. Excitingly, several commitments were pre-matched, showing the partnership approach called for in the GCR. These included matches between France and Chad, Switzerland and Georgia, and Canada, which has committed to continuing support for strengthening asylum systems with Mexico. The pledge leads will continue to work on facilitating further matching.

Regional bodies have also made commitments to this pledge, including the East Africa Community, who have pledged to support their Member States in the development of laws, policies and practices, while the European Union has pledged support for improved asylum systems inside and outside the EU.

3.8 million people

targeted through improved asylum systems and access to legal advice

Statistical Inclusion

In order to effectively monitor and improve the conditions for forcibly displaced and stateless people, accurate and timely data is imperative. When refugees and stateless people are not included into national data systems, it is challenging to ensure that they are efficiently supported.

One hundred and two commitments have been made towards the Multi-Stakeholder Pledge on Inclusion in National Statistical Systems and Surveys, led by the Republic of Djibouti, and represented by Institut National de la Statistique de Djibouti (INSTAD), the World Bank - UNHCR Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement and the Expert Group on Refugee, IDP and Statelessness Statistics (EGRISS), with support from UNHCR.

The majority of the pledges come from States and International Organisations, including pledges by the National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova, which is seeking to have an accurate data baseline by 2026; the National Institute of Statistics of Honduras is establishing a data system, which will, among other things, provide age, gender, and diversity aggregated data on internally displaced people – vital for providing proper protection to all; and Djibouti has a project which will require data to be aligned with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The many stories briefly mentioned here represent a fraction of the incredible efforts being made across the 48 Multi-Stakeholder Pledges. As they progress, we look forward to covering more, and looking deeper at inspirational stories like these, in particular those which are in need of urgent financial and material support to be properly implemented, and we continue to encourage States and other stakeholders to do so, including through pledge matching.

102 commitments

towards Statistical Inclusion Multi-Stakeholder Pledge