Broken promises must end now
by Jan Egeland
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
16. Dec. 2019
Support to poor countries hosting the bulk of the world’s refugees is lacking despite promises from global leaders three years ago. Humanitarian workers are appealing to high and middle income countries to offer more support to refugees and displaced people at the first ever Global Refugee Forum this week in Geneva.
“World leaders solemnly promised with the New York Declaration that there would be better responsibility-sharing in protecting and assisting refugees and displaced. Since then, borders have closed for families seeking protection, refugee quotas slashed, and poor host countries left with little international support. The Global Refugee Forum must reverse this trend and save a refugee system on the brink of collapse,” warned Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
In the wake of the 2015 refugee influx to Europe, world leaders signed the ambitious 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. Since then, little progress has been made to better share the responsibility for sheltering people fleeing conflict. UN Member States pledged to work together to protect and care for all refugees, but the number of refugees resettled globally has halved since 2016, to less than 60,000 so far this year. As we approach the end of 2019, humanitarian appeals for some of the largest refugee crises, are less than half funded.
The situation for many refugees is thus worsening. The lack of funding and support is forcing desperate families to adopt dangerous coping strategies such as child labour and prostitution. Closed borders are making people embark on life-threatening journeys in search of safety.
The New York Declaration was followed by the Global Compact on Refugees last year, and on 17 and 18 December, state representatives are meant to translate the words into concrete pledges at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.
While some rich countries are providing funding and a number of poor countries are providing refugees from neighbouring countries with safety, there is a large and gaping majority of nations not taking their share of the responsibility.
“This is a rallying call to the ‘missing middle’. Many large and emerging economies are neither receiving refugees nor contributing financially. They must come onboard and increase their contributions if we are to succeed,” Egeland said.
Among the top refugee recipient countries, Turkey is sheltering 3.7 million refugees, Lebanon 1.5 million and Uganda 1.3 million.
“Uganda is sheltering more refugees alone than the total number of people that arrived into the whole of European Union, Switzerland and Norway combined during the so-called refugee crisis in 2015. The country should be applauded for the way it has received refugees, but applause alone will not feed empty stomachs,” Egeland said before appealing to the international community to step up their support and create opportunities for refugees.
# The Global Refugee Forum and the Global Compact on Refugees:
A majority of UN member states affirmed The Global Compact on Refugees with a UN General Assembly vote in 2018. The Compact recognizes an “urgent need for more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility of hosting and supporting the world’s refugees while taking account of existing contributions and the differing capacities and resources among States. Refugees and host communities should not be left behind”.
The main objectives are to ease the pressure on host countries, enhance refugee self-reliance, expand access to third-country solutions and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.
Every four years a Global Refugee Forum will be convened for all UN member states and other stakeholders to announce concrete pledges and contributions towards the objectives.
Refugees, resettlement and funding:
The number of refugees globally has increased to 25.9 million. 1.4 million people were estimated to need resettlement this year, according to UNHCR.
The number of people resettled (departures) is cut in half since 2016 (126,000) – to 65,000 in 2017, 56,000 in 2018 and 54,000 departures by end of October this year.
The UN and partners have appealed for about 10 billion dollars to meet the needs of refugees fleeing some of today’s largest crises, including the crisis in Venezuela, Syria, South Sudan, DR Congo, Nigeria, Burundi and Myanmar. Currently less than 4 billion dollars have been provided – only 40% of the amount needed.
http://www.unhcr.org/global-refugee-forum.html http://www.unhcr.org/en-au/news/stories/2019/12/5df8ae394/international-community-must-worlds-refugees-says-un-chief.html http://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2019/12/5de674e28/live-blog-global-refugee-forum-day-1.html http://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2019/12/5df217287/live-blog-global-refugee-forum-day-2.html
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Three exceptional women nominated for the 2020 Martin Ennals Human Rights Award
by Isabel de Sola
Martin Ennals Foundation
Three exceptional women are the finalists for the 2020 Martin Ennals Award, a demonstration of the leading position now occupied by women in the defence of human rights.
In Yemen, Huda Al-Sarari has exposed and challenged the existence of secret prisons and many cases of torture. In Mexico, Norma Ledezma is fighting against femicides and disappearances. In South Africa, Sizani Ngubane is fighting for access for women to education and to land.
Each year, the Martin Ennals Award rewards human rights defenders from around the world who distinguish themselves by their strong commitment to promoting human rights – often at the risk of their own lives. In 2020, for the first time the Jury nominated three women who defend the fundamental rights of their communities in sensitive contexts.
‘The Martin Ennals Foundation is proud to recognise the courageous work of three women. For the 2020 edition, our Jury’s choice reflects the ever-greater global impetus of individuals – whatever their gender – who are committed to respect for human rights and women’s rights in particular’, says Isabel de Sola, Director of the Martin Ennals Foundation.
‘The finalists for the 2020 Martin Ennals Award work on different continents, but all three have in common their resilience, determination, a tremendous rigour and, finally, the positive and concrete impact of their work,’ explains Hans Thoolen, Chairman of the Jury.
In Yemen, where the conflict has been ongoing since 2005, Huda Al-Sarari, a Yemeni lawyer, unveiled the existence of several secret detention centres where the worst violations of human rights were committed: torture, disappearances or even extrajudicial executions.
In South Africa, women face discrimination, the worst expression of which is widespread gender violence. In rural communities, they frequently have their land expropriated and are deprived of access to education and justice. Sizani Ngubane founded an organisation of more than 50,000 women from rural areas in her country and has fought successfully for over 40 years for the recognition of their rights.
In Mexico, the civil population is paying a high price for the weakness of the rule of law which is underpins widespread violence and impunity. Women are the primary victims, with more than 3,500 femicides committed each year. Norma Ledezma, who is the mother of one of the victims, puts all her energy into supporting families seeking access to justice in the state of Chihuahua.
* The Martin Ennals Award is an annual prize for human rights defenders. Finalists and the laureate are selected by a Jury of 10 of the world’s leading human rights NGOs: http://www.martinennalsaward.org/laureates-finalists
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