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English

Solidarity with Refugees Has a New Blueprint

In recent years, responsibility-sharing – the foundation of the modern international system for protecting refugees – is replaced by responsibility-shifting, usually onto countries that are least able to cope. The Global Compact on Refugees could be the key to changing this.

GENEVA – At the cusp of a new decade, the world remains gripped by multiple refugee crises. Yet, so far, the international response has been piecemeal and unbalanced, with poor and middle-income countries shouldering the lion’s share of responsibility.

Venezuela is beset by a severe political and humanitarian crisis, and gang violence and abuse are rampant in parts of Central America. Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic are embroiled in violent conflicts, while the people of Afghanistan and Somalia have endured decades-long crises. In Myanmar, a revival of the decades-long repression of the Rohingya has displaced hundreds of thousands. Add to that extreme poverty and climate-related pressures – in Africa’s Sahel region and elsewhere – and it is little wonder why the number of displaced people has been rising fast.

Today, there are close to 26 million refugees and 41 million internally displaced people. Some have been uprooted for months, others for years or even lifetimes. They are on every continent, often in regions that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. They can be found in rural villages and, more commonly, in or near cities. (Reflecting the broader urbanization trend, 61% of refugees live in urban areas.)

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