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Still no real progress one year after landmark UN refugees pledge

18th Sep 2017

One year on from the historic United Nations summit for refugees and migrants, the international community has failed to make meaningful progress towards meeting the goals of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, Oxfam said today.

The Declaration, first adopted last September, reaffirmed the responsibility of all nations to refugees, and laid out a two-year deadline for countries to develop and agree on a "global compact" that would make these commitments a reality. But 12 months on, there has been no improvement in refugee crises around the world. 

There has been little sign that the countries which agreed the New York Declaration are acting in line with their commitments, and there has been no end to discriminatory and xenophobic migration-related laws and practices in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, this lack of progress at the halfway point has experts worried that this valuable opportunity is being squandered and that an effective solution will not be agreed upon in 2018.

Fionna Smyth, Oxfam GB's Head of Humanitarian Advocacy and Campaigns, said: "More than 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes because of dangers beyond their control. They are trapped in limbo or risking their lives in search of safety while world leaders stall and delay. All governments, but particularly those of rich nations like the UK, should deliver the global solution they have promised."

Oxfam urges countries to realise the ambitious agenda put forward in the Declaration quickly and in particular to work together transparently in delivering a concrete mechanism for sharing responsibility for refugees by the 2018 deadline.  

Crucially, the mechanism should establish each country's responsibility for hosting, protecting, and caring for refugees. Poorer countries like Uganda and Lebanon are still bearing the brunt of the crisis, hosting almost 90 percent of displaced people around the world according to Oxfam's last analysis. Less than one in 10 of the world's refugees lives in the six richest countries - the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK. The British government should follow Germany and Turkey's lead in calling for a system that shares responsibility more fairly.

Smyth said: "While the UK has been a generous donor to other nations that are hosting millions of refugees, this does not excuse it from its responsibility to open its doors to the most vulnerable people who have been forced from their homes. One simple and compassionate way it can do this is to change the rules so more refugees can reunite with their family in safety in the UK."

Oxfam has warned against increased hostility towards refugees and more violent conflicts forcing people to flee.

  • More than a million refugees from South Sudan have arrived in Uganda - 80 percent of them arriving in the last year - yet world leaders have contributed less than a quarter of the $2 billion the country is seeking for humanitarian and development needs. 
  • More than 2,400 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year. 
  • Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar with no obvious solution in sight. 
  • The Syrian conflict rages unabated - millions displaced by the war continue to live without sufficient support or protection.  

"It is scandalous that we are still so far from a comprehensive plan to share responsibility for the refugee crisis while poorer countries continue to pick up the pieces. Wealthy nations are turning a blind eye and leaving others to clean up the mess," said Smyth.
 
Ends
 
For information or to arrange an interview contact:

  • In New York: Attila Kulcsar on attila.kulcsar@oxfam.org / +44 (0)7471 142 974
  • In London: Kai Tabacek on ktabacek1@oxfam.org.uk / +44 (0)7584 265 077

For updates, please follow @oxfamgbpress