Giving Compass' Take:

• Kemal Kirişci explains why Turkey would be a good place to start making concrete progress on the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees. 

• How can funders best support progress on the Global Compact? What are the long-term implications of the Compact? 

• Learn about philanthropic strategies to support refugees and asylum seekers

The 2018 Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) puts forward a wealth of policy ideas to improve protection for refugees and support for host countries. In many current political environments, the GCR’s broader recommendations may receive pushback; hence, concrete ideas for implementation will matter.

The place to start could be Turkey. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world and has had a burden-sharing agreement with the European Union since 2016, but the agreement needs to be revisited or restructured to encourage Syrians to achieve greater self-reliance. Recognizing the centrality of the migrant issue for Europe—and Turkey’s key role in stemming flows—the compact’s innovative ideas serve the interests of both sides, as well as of course refugees themselves and the broader international community.

The compact came to fruition last year, calling on U.N. members to develop long-term, sustainable solutions to large movements of refugees by helping to:

  • Ease pressures 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.

The rise of populism and anti-immigration politics in Europe and the United States make the prospects for expanding access to third-country solutions politically challenging, at least in the near term. Early in 2019, the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) noted that “less than 5 percent of global refugee resettlement needs” were met last year. The persistence of violent conflicts in as diverse places as Afghanistan, Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen make the resulting displacement crises ever more protracted. In many of these cases, the safe, dignified, and sustainable return of refugees to their homes will remain elusive.

This makes local solutions, rather than resettlement, the default outcome, and hence improving refugee self-reliance and easing pressure on host countries is paramount. Further strain on host countries will only jeopardize already scarce resources and fragile societal peace— overburdening them could provoke even more political backlash. The GCR calls for national and international stakeholders to “promote economic opportunities, decent work, job creation and entrepreneurship programs for host community members and refugees” to promote social cohesion and enable refugees to build productive and sustainable lives free from charity and precarity.

Read the full article about the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees by Kemal Kirişci at Brookings.