World summit ends with pledges of jobs, education for refugees


The first-ever Global Refugee Forum in Geneva wrapped up on Wednesday, with wide-ranging and substantial commitments to help millions of refugees and the communities they live in worldwide, which included important pledges of new long-term support for their inclusion.

As the gathering drew to a close late Wednesday, over 770 pledges had been made by heads of state and government, UN leaders, international institutions, development organizations, business leaders and civil society representatives among the 3,000 attendees.

They promised job opportunities, school places for refugee children, new government policies, solutions like resettlement, clean energy, infrastructure and better support for host communities and countries. Further pledges are expected in the near future.

“I want to salute the efforts pledged by many countries — both donors and by host countries — and by business leaders, civil society and refugees themselves, to redouble efforts in support of refugee inclusion, self-reliance and solutions,” UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi told the closing session at the first-ever Global Refugee Forum.

“The energy and commitment that has resonated over the last three days is a testimony that despite a difficult global environment, there is a shared commitment to protecting those fleeing in search of refuge.”

The Forum met in Geneva at a moment when 70.8 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, including 25.9 million refugees. It sought to reboot responses to the millions uprooted by wars and persecution as well as the communities that host them – most in developing in countries.

The World Bank Group announced US$2.2 billion in development funding for refugees and hosting communities, as well as a separate funding window to boost the private sector and create jobs.

A similar announcement from the Inter-American Development Bank promised US$1 billion. In addition, a broad range of states, businesses and other stakeholders pledged financial support for refugees and their host communities of over US$2 billion.

They aim to boost support for inclusion and long-term development needs in host communities – recognition that for the majority of refugees worldwide, exile frequently stretches out for years or even decades.

More than US$250 million in pledges by business underlined the growing role of the private sector in mobilizing vital resources to support millions of refugees worldwide. At least 15,000 jobs will be available to refugees through these initiatives. There will also be some 125,000 hours per year of pro bono legal counselling.

Grandi urged all participants to sustain the momentum and deliver on their promises: “This has the makings of a success. Making it a success is incumbent on all of us,” he said.

The Forum is a key element of the Global Compact on Refugees, a framework for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing affirmed by the UN General Assembly a year ago. (Source: UNHCR)