Still no real progress one year after landmark UN refugee pledge
The Declaration, first adopted last September, reaffirmed the responsibility of all nations to refugees, and laid out a two-year timeline for countries to develop and agree on a “global compact” that would make these commitments a reality. But 12 months later, there has been no improvement in refugee crises globally.
There has been little sign the countries that agreed to the New York Declaration are acting in line with their commitments, and there has been no end to discriminatory and xenophobic migration-related laws and practices in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, this lack of progress at the halfway point has experts worried that this valuable opportunity is being squandered and that an effective solution will not be agreed upon in 2018.
The window is closing. Sixty five million people around the world have been forced from their homes and tragically, more than half are children.
“The international community – most of all rich governments – can’t wish their suffering away, or pretend there is no global solution. It is time they progressed on their promise to overhaul the refugee system. The more they wait, the harder this will get.”
Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s Executive Director
Oxfam urges countries to realize the ambitious agenda put forward in the Declaration quickly, and to transparently work together to deliver a concrete mechanism for sharing responsibility for refugees by the 2018 deadline.
The mechanism must establish each country’s responsibility for hosting, protecting, and caring for refugees. Oxfam’s last assessment showed a sharp contrast in who is looking after people in need of safety, with the richest six countries hosting less than nine per cent of the world’s refugees. Meanwhile, countries like Uganda and Lebanon have opened their doors to millions of refugees and despite clear and concrete requests for resettlement, humanitarian and development funds, world leaders are not coming forward with sufficient support.
“The poorer countries of our world cannot and should not have to keep bearing the brunt of this crisis. It is a moral outrage when wealthy nations do not face up to the responsibilities that come with having such riches,” said Byanyima. “Germany and Turkey have issued strong statements of support for more predictable and equitable responsibility and burden sharing. So have India and Saudi Arabia, neither of which has a refugee policy. Other countries should follow their lead.”
Oxfam has warned against increased hostility towards refugees and more violent conflicts forcing people to flee.
- More than a million refugees from South Sudan have arrived in Uganda – 80 per cent of them arriving in the last year – yet world leaders have contributed less than a quarter of the $2 billion the country is seeking for humanitarian and development needs.
- 2017 is on track to be the deadliest year for refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean seeking safety and opportunity in Europe, with more than 2,400 people dying as of August. There has been a 17 per cent increase in deaths on the United States’ southern border.
- Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar with no obvious solution in sight.
- The Syrian conflict rages unabated and millions displaced by the war continue to live without sufficient support or protection.
“The current UN process to develop a global compact is the only game in town – we cannot let this unprecedented opportunity go to waste. Failure to meet the promises of the New York Declaration would be yet another blow to the millions of people who have fled conflict, persecution, and violence. We owe them better than this,” said Byanyima.