Africa: UNHCR: Global Forced Displacement Crisis Must be Addressed and Resolved

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi addresses delegates at the 70th session of UNHCR’s Executive Committee in Geneva on October 7, 2019.

Geneva — The U.N. high commissioner for refugees is calling for urgent action to resolve the global forced displacement crisis as increasing numbers of people flee conflict, natural disasters and grinding poverty. Filippo Grandi was speaking at the opening of UNHCR's annual weeklong refugee conference.

Forced displacement has reached record highs. In recent years, nearly 71 million people have been uprooted from their homes. More than one-third are refugees; the rest are displaced within their own countries.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says the issue of forced displacement is far more complex now than in 1951. That was when the United Nations adopted the Refugee Convention to protect and assist millions of refugees who survived the horrors of World War II.

Grandi says refugee protection since has become more complex. He notes the world now is faced with what he calls mixed flows of refugees and migrants.

The commissioner also says putting economic migrants and asylum seekers into the same category is eroding protections for refugees, who are people fleeing from war, persecution and violence.

In Mexico last week, he says he saw examples of refugee integration coupled with increasing migratory pressures from the region, but also from Africa.

"Saving lives and safeguarding the dignity and rights of all those on the move must remain central, together with access to international protection for those with valid claims," Grandi said. "There and elsewhere, legal migration pathways would help prevent the abuse of asylum systems as substitutes of migration channels."

Grandi says climate change is creating a new form of forcible displacement, an issue that did not exist when the Refugee Convention was conceived.

He says climate-related causes are a growing driver of new internal displacement.

"Climate is often also a pervasive factor in cross-border displacement…Forced displacement across borders can stem from the interaction between climate change and disasters with conflict and violence," Grandi said. "Or, it can arise from natural or man-made disasters alone.  Either situation can trigger international protection needs."

Grandi says he plans to convene the first Global Refugee Forum in just over two months. The aim of the forum, he says, is to address and seek to resolve forced displacement, one of the great global challenges of this century.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: VOA

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.