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Every minute of the day, conflict and persecution forces 20 people from their homes. By the end of today, nearly 30,000 people will find themselves displaced.
2016 saw more people fleeing their homes than ever in human history.
Syria continues to top the list with 12 million displaced. Conflict in Colombia has produced 7.7 million displaced. Afghanistan: 4.6 million. Iraq: 4.2 million. South Sudan: 3.3 million. In total, we now have 65.6 million displaced people worldwide, of which 22.5 million are refugees. The UN Global Trends report released this week pointed out that 37 countries have taken in refugees—84 percent have resettled in developing nations close to areas of conflict.
The numbers are staggering and the desperate need for innovative solutions grows by the day. A conversation at the Skoll World Forum, Rethinking Refugee Response and Support, explored emerging trends in the space, and Hannah Darnton, Skoll Analyst, has followed the issue closely. Zach Slobig, Skoll Editor, checked in with Hannah to get a sense of the challenges around effective response and how the Skoll Foundation is approaching the issue.
A preview of the interview is below. For more visit the source article at Skoll.
Zach Slobig: You wrote a great piece a year ago looking at the need for aggressive innovation to begin to address the worsening refugee crisis. How are things looking compared to the summer of 2016?
Hannah Darnton: I think there are at least two conversations going on. One contingent is adamant that we are gaining traction in the space, we’ve identified the key obstacles, and are taking the appropriate actions to address them. Others suggest that we’re talking in an echo chamber; attempting to address complex problems with outdated solutions, and that we really need to figure out how to get more creative about solving this problem.
I can only speak to the trend over the past couple of years, but I have definitely seen a more concerted push for innovative solutions, increased collaboration, and cross-sector awareness and participation. While these developments are positive, they aren’t enough, and we have a long way to go.
Zach: Back in September of this year, the UN General Assembly adopted a set of commitments: The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The next step would be the signing of two “global compacts” in 2018. What effect do these agreements have?
Hannah: The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants and the corresponding New York Declaration, were triggered last year largely in response to the international sector’s failure to adequately respond to the refugee crisis. The global refugee population is the highest on record, totaling at 22.5 million people at the end of 2016. 5.5 million refugees are from Syria alone. As Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch stated, “We’re facing an historic crisis and the response is not historic.”
Legal frameworks for a collective response are critical. 193 member states came together and acknowledged that traditional humanitarian response is insufficient, and adopted the New York Declaration. That’s a groundbreaking first step. The Global Compacts are another step in the right direction, yet the lack of concrete national commitments and the fact that the compacts are not legally binding, is extremely troubling. I think there are major discussions still to be had around enforcement and States’ realistic abilities to hit specific targets, given shifting national priorities and politics.