High-level Event Seeks to Build Momentum for Refugee Compact
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The ministerial-level event took place on 24 September 2018, with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh highlighting that the refugee and migrant compacts are complementary.

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner on Refugees, said host countries’ generosity should not be taken for granted.

UNGA President Espinosa said the refugee compact should ensure that help is finally at hand for all Member States who continue to support the 25 million refugees worldwide.

24 September 2018: A high-level event highlighted positive approaches taken since the adoption of the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, including initiatives to strengthen the resilience of refugees and communities where they reside. The meeting also reflected on how the proposed global compact will take these and other developments to scale.

The ministerial-level event took place on 24 September 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA). Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner on Refugees, opened the discussion by underscoring that host countries’ generosity should not be taken for granted.

Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, referred to the two compacts that have been agreed since the New York Declaration was adopted: the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, which was agreed informally in July 2018 and is expected to be adopted at an intergovernmental conference in December 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco; and the global compact on refugees, which has been presented as part of the High Commissioner’s annual report to the UNGA and is expected to be endorsed by the end of 2018. She highlighted that the two compacts are complementary, and expressed hope that UN agencies will draw on the synergies between them for implementation. She mentioned challenges related to Bangladesh’s hosting of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, including the loss of deep forest triggered by the need for land to host them. She emphasized the need to focus on addressing the root causes of forced displacement rather than on minimizing its effects.

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, said Turkey spent US$32 billion from its national budget on hosting refugees and migrants. He regretted that calls for sharing responsibility for refugees and migrants “have fallen on deaf ears,” saying the current international approach to refugees is unsustainable. He expressed hope that the compact on refugees will improve responsibility sharing.

Epsy Campbell Barr, Vice-President of Costa Rica, called for enshrining sustainability in the international approach to refugees. She emphasized the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships to address the complexity of the refuge crisis.

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, cautioned that since the adoption of the New York Declaration, the refugee crisis has “continued to rage,” with the number of forcefully displaced people reaching 44,000 per day in 2017. Given that 50% of these people are under the age of 18, he said, the results of inaction “would haunt us.” Also on 24 September, the World Bank announced that 20 companies have joined a coalition to leverage their core business and social responsibility initiatives to support refugees and host communities in Jordan and around the world.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of UNGA 73, noted that the global compact on refugees will set in motion a spirit of humanitarianism that responds to the needs of refugees and host communities. While the compact is voluntary, she said it provides a challenge to make efforts beyond the agreed language. When adopted, she said the compact should ensure that help is finally at hand for all Member States who continue to support the 25 million refugees worldwide. Espinosa stressed that with new and ongoing conflicts, and with the numbers of refugees increasing, inaction is simply not an option. [UN webcast] [Remarks of UNGA President] [Event concept note] [UNHCR webpage on refugee compact]

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