World leaders voice strong support for new refugee deal at UN General Assembly

Countries hosting large numbers of refugees join UNHCR and World Bank in support of ambitious model to respond to displacement crises.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, hosted a gathering with political leaders from four continents, including Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Turkey and the World Bank today at the UN General Assembly High Level Week in support of the international agreement known as the global compact on refugees, a robust and systematic model to improve the lives of refugees and their host communities.

The global compact is expected to be endorsed by members of the UN General Assembly in December 2018, after two years of intense consultations UNHCR has led with UN member states, international organizations, experts, civil society, and refugees.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised the role of host countries as first responders to refugee emergencies, like Bangladesh, Uganda, Niger or Mali, among others.

“These countries have kept their borders open at a time when in the world this is not something that we can take for granted anymore,” Grandi said. “We are facing an increasing tendency to reject, to close, to push back.” 

“Host countries have kept their borders open at a time when in the world this is not something that we can take for granted anymore.”

2017 saw record figures of forced displacement — 68.5 million people worldwide were forced to leave their homes, of whom 24.5 million became refugees in other countries. 

Almost nine in 10 of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries, where they often live in remote areas with significant development challenges. The impact on local services, infrastructure and resources “is colossal,” Grandi said. 

The global compact envisions specific measures benefiting both refugees and hosts, such as strengthening the hosting country’s health and educational infrastructure, as well as potentially revitalizing economies.  

The prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina shared the experience of how the country has been helping Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in the neighbouring country of Myanmar. 

Bangladesh has received over 727,000 Rohingya refugees in one year and it has allocated 600 acres of land to provide shelter, as well as covering their basic needs. 

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Text by Marta Martinez / UNHCR

Photo: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi greets Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina /  UNHCR/Lorey Campese