Global Compact

Talk Media News: Unfazed by US boycott, 160+ countries back global migration compact

Some 164 countries signed on to a non-binding Global Compact for Migration this week, enshrining some commonly accepted migration policies that are likely to come in handy as ever greater numbers of people leave their home countries behind in search of a better life.

“What we ultimately got out of the text is a floor, not a ceiling.”

Alice Thomas is a program manager for Refugees International.

“It’s the first time you have in one document a 360-degree view of migration and a set of best practices for states working collaboratively to achieve safer, regular, orderly migration.”

Some of the compact’s 23 goals include ending “migration detention unless as a last resort,” eliminating discrimination against migrants and stopping the “allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance.”

While the compact is clearly and purposefully non-binding, the U.S. boycotted it anyway, and perhaps that’s no surprise. The U.S. has been widely criticized for detaining migrants (even going as far as to separate migrant children from their parents) and President Trump himself has repeatedly turned public sentiment against migrants, even peddling the debunked theory that they pose health risks to the U.S.

Non-binding or not, Thomas hopes one of the compact’s goals to collect more data on migration will ultimately help countries with good migration policy to stand out from the pack.

“To say that best practices are going to drive you to do something that’s going to call you out in some fashion – well yeah, maybe it’s going to mean that you’re not following the best practices for migration. But the whole idea that the international community needs to work together to try to deal with this phenomena.”

That cooperation is urgently needed. According to the U.N., the number of international migrants has increased from around 100 million people 30 years ago to more than 250 million now, and that trend shows little signs of stopping.

UN Dispatch Podcast: Global Compact for Migration, Explained

Over 180 countries are endorsing what is known as the Global Compact for Migration. The text of this non-binding agreement was finalized over the summer, and countries are meeting in Marrakech, Morocco on December 10th and 11th to formally launch the Compact.

There is a great deal of misinformation being spread, mostly by right wing governments in Europe in the US, about what this agreement entails.

This agreement is not a treaty. Rather, it is an agreed set of principles and creates a kind of platform for multilateral and bilateral cooperation around issues of international migration.

On the line to explain the Global Compact for Migration, better known around the UN as the “GCM” is Alice Thomas of Refugees International.  I caught up with Alice Thomas from Marrakech where she was participating in civil society forums around the Compact. We discuss both the content of the Compact and its potential impact on destination countries, origin countries and migrants themselves. We also discuss the impact of the non-participation of a few countries in this compact, including the United States and some countries in Europe.

If you have 20 minutes and want to a primer on the Global Compact For Migration, have a listen –>


Luciadore: What the UN can learn from Turkey about refugees

The subject of refugees always enacts a mix of emotions. Some people believe that refugees detract from the local community; others that they enhance it and give back more than they take from society. I’m in the latter camp but that’s because I’ve undertaken research on the matter. (I’ve made a documentary on the subject.: “Stepping Up: NZ’s response to the refugee crisis. https://www.luciadore.com/blog/stepping-up-nz-s-response-to-the-refugee-crisis).

I continue to do research on the subject. Indeed, I’m undertaking ongoing research with the Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre (CRRRC) (http://www.canterburyrefugeecentre.org.nz/) where we’re looking at employment and health.

So this article that was published in the Brookings Brief was both timely and enlightening. What will New Zealand learn about the Global Compact for Refugees (GCR).

What the UN can learn from Turkey about refugees

By Jessica Brandt and Kemel Kirisci

As the crisis in Syria enters its seventh year, it shows little sign of abating. The violence there has killed nearly half a million people and displaced more than 11 million others—over six million of them within the country, and roughly five-and-half millionbeyond its borders within the region. Although nearly a million more have sought asylum in Europe, the majority of Syrian refugees reside in neighboring states, which have been called upon to shoulder the social, political, and economic consequences. Approximately 3.5 million are seeking new lives in Turkey. As Syrian regime attacks on the Idlib region mount, there are fears that these numbers may well increase.

Against this backdrop, there is a growing international recognition of the need for new approaches—and new energy behind efforts to identify them. United Nations member states are now in the process of developing a new Global Compact for Refugees (GCR), designed to improve responses to displacement worldwide, which will be adopted when world leaders convene in New York in September of this year. A key component of the GCR is the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which lays out objectives that include easing pressures on refugee-hosting countries, building refugee self-reliance, expanding access to resettlement, and supporting conditions for refugees to return home voluntarily. It is intended to take “whole of society” approach, bringing together a range of stakeholders for a coordinated response.

The CRRF is being applied in 13 countries. None of them are in the Middle East—despite the considerable experience amassed by frontline states, which together host roughly a quarter of all refugees worldwide. Capturing this knowledge, and ensuring that it informs the Programme of Action that will accompany the CRRF and underpin its implementation, is critical.

A few lessons are immediately evident

First, since the European migration crisis of 2015, Syrian refugees have been seen as a threat to the stability and future of Europe. There has been a concerted effort to keep Syrian refugees close to home with walls, barbed wire, and the deterrent effect of squalid conditions, especially on the Greek islands. The implicit assumption in Europe is that Syrian refugees, who are overwhelmingly Muslim, are more likely to integrate into their host communities in the frontline countries because of cultural affinity. This is a simplistic approach. It fails to recognize challenges resulting from economic, political, social, and even cultural differences between host communities and refugees. A public opinion survey in Turkey completed late in 2017 reveals that 80 percent of Turkish society believes that refugees either “do not resemble at all” or “do not resemble” them culturally. Strikingly, this percentage increases in some parts of Turkey bordering Syria, where locals “share the same geography, religion, sect and even ethnic commonality with Syrians,” as survey author Murat Erdoğan notes.

Second, engagement between humanitarian actors and local authorities is essential. That is in part because of the urbanization of displacement. Today, approximately 60 percent of refugees and at least half of internally displaced people worldwide reside in urban environments. More than 90 percent of Turkey’s refugee population lives outside of traditional refugee camps, almost one million of them in Istanbul and with one city, Kilis, hosting more Syrians than its own population. The Turkish government, civil society, and the municipalities where refugees are concentrated have accumulated rich experience in facilitating integration and managing challenges related to social cohesion.

Cities—and the dense networks of public, private, and civic actors that operate within them—are an inspiring source of innovation. They can also be particularly challenging environments for the displaced, who frequently forgo formal protection when they leave formal camps. In cities, newcomers may find that labor and housing markets are tight, costs are high, social services are strained, and relations with established residents are tense. The latter reality is startling, considering that 75 percent of the Turkish public, according to the above survey, does not agree that it is possible to live in peace with Syrians. Supporting urban projects that mitigate the pressure on public services and nurture a culture of living together (social cohesion) will be essential to managing this resentment.

Turkey and the West

By Kemal Kirişci

In a recent report, “I am Only Looking for my Rights,” senior advocate at Refugees International Izza Leghtas illustrates how, while Turkey’s new system of work permits for refugees is an important step forward, few refugees have benefited and exploitative work in the informal sector remains the norm. Some livelihood programs in Turkey’s urban centers are assisting refugees in the difficult task of accessing legal employment, but there is an urgent need for these programs to be expanded. Her work suggests that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should cooperate with municipal authorities to expand the availability of free Turkish language instruction for adult and child refugees, and to support the creation of community centers in Istanbul where refugees can access employment assistance and information about their rights. The report also makes clear that for legal employment of refugees to become a reality, there must be incentives for employers to hire refugees and the private sector must be involved.

Next month, UNHCR is expected to release a “zero draft” of the GCR. Formal consultations on the text, attended by U.N. Member States, will take place between February and July of this year. During that window, UNHCR should find ways to feed lessons from Turkey and other frontline states into the ongoing discussions. One way to accomplish this would be to commission a detailed report that sheds light on good practices, and share it with member states as part of the formal consultation process. This idea, as well as others, are outlined in a forthcoming brief, “The Global Compact for Refugees: Bringing Mayors to the Table, Why and How.”

Drawing on the experience of Turkey, as well as other frontline states like Jordan and Lebanon, which have also received large numbers of Syrian refugees, will help ensure that the CRRF is as effective as it can be. That’s not just good for the framework’s legitimacy—it’s good for the millions of refugees in search of safety, and for the communities that host them.

For the original article, click here. 

Irin: Five migration trends to watch in 2018

2017 saw a host of new and quickly deepening humanitarian crises from Southeast Asia to Africa. But behind this rising tide of forced displacement was an isolationist and xenophobic political backdrop that could render 2018 even worse, especially given the lack of diplomatic leverage and leadership required to resolve intractable conflicts.

In the United States, President Donald Trump spent his first year erecting bureaucratic walls to keep out immigrants and refugees, while calling for a physical wall along the southern US border. In Europe, far-right candidates threatened to upset a host of elections. And, as North Africa acted as a holding cell, conflicts in both the continent's east and centre escalated while humanitarian budgets shrank, driving up the numbers of internally displaced and urgent protection needs.

“What distinguishes conflicts of today is that they’re unending,” Demetrios Papademetriou, co-founder and president emeritus of the Migration Policy Institute, told IRIN. “None of the conflicts we see today are anywhere near being resolved, because the resolutions are extremely complex. They involve religion, power, control of resources. No refugee-producing conflict today will be resolved in the near future.”

UN member states are hammering out the details of two global compacts – one on refugees and one on migration – to be adopted at this year’s General Assembly in September. But few are optimistic that they will be game-changers for better global refugee and migration governance in the years to come.

So, while this year promises to be even more difficult, here are five key questions on migration policy the answers to which will shape how 2018 really plays out for some of the world’s most vulnerable people:

Will the EU continue its harmful deterrence policies?

A dramatic decline in sea crossings from Libya to Europe in 2017 sounds on the surface like a success. But this year is likely to expose the kinds of human rights abuses the EU is willing to tolerate to keep externalising its migration responsibilities.

Like the 2016 EU-Turkey accord – which choked off the Aegean Sea route but led to more than 10,000 asylum seekers being detained on Greek islands and returns to unsafe countries – Italy’s deals with Libyan groups have come with a human cost: abuse for up to one million migrants languishing in detention centres, often with ties to militias. Despite an international outcry, mainly due to CNN footage of what appeared to be slave auctions, little is likely to change before Italy's general election in March.

Towards the end of 2017, the EU and the African Union put together a repatriation plan to send migrants back to their countries of origin or other transit countries, such as Niger, with the help of the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration.

“The bigger question is what happens to people when they’re back in Niger,” Minos Mouzourakis, policy researcher at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles in Brussels, told IRIN. “The EU is talking about resettlement as an option, but that doesn’t mean the same people being evacuated to Niger will have access to durable solutions. What is the actual objective? Are we just returning people to another transit country and calling it an evacuation, or are we giving them avenues to other legal options like resettlement?”

Migrant returns are paid for through programmes like a 3.3 billion-euro "emergency trust fund" originally billed as development aid for North Africa.

In late December, 162 refugees and migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen were brought to Italyfrom Libya under the EU-AU plan. But if the troubled inter-EU relocation programme is any indication, infighting may prevent the bloc from implementing a meaningful plan for resettlement from Africa.

Will the US lead the way (backwards) on refugee resettlement?

Last year, Trump all but ended resettlement to the United States, which has taken two thirds of the world's resettled refugees annually for the past decade. His executive order last January banned refugees and travellers from several Muslim-majority countries, prompting months of legal battles and indefinitely barring tens of thousands who had cleared the years-long vetting process. Though courts have saved the programme, the president sets the ceiling for refugee admissions, and in September he set it at 45,000 for fiscal year 2018, the lowest level since its inception in 1980. So far, admissions have slowed to a trickle. Many advocates predict the United States won’t even come close to Trump’s number.

Domestically, this threatens the entire American resettlement regime, since resettlement agencies’ federal funding is tied to the number of refugees they assist. Several agencies are already closing offices and laying off personnel.

Other countries are stepping in with increased resettlement pledges, including Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. But those slots won’t be enough to fill the hole left by the United States.

“At a time when the international community is trying to come together to promote more equitable responsibility-sharing on refugees, when the US cuts the number of refugees it’ll resettle, it sends a very negative signal to the rest of the world,” Mark Yarnell, senior advocate and UN liaison for Refugees International in Washington, DC, told IRIN. “And even though resettlement is so rare relative to the number of people who are refugees, it’s still the solution many refugees hope for – and when they see it diminishing, they’re more likely to take more hazardous paths to safety.”

For the full article, click here

All Africa: Five Migration Trends to Watch in 2018

2017 saw a host of new and quickly deepening humanitarian crises from Southeast Asia to Africa. But behind this rising tide of forced displacement was an isolationist and xenophobic political backdrop that could render 2018 even worse, especially given the lack of diplomatic leverage and leadership required to resolve intractable conflicts.

In the United States, President Donald Trump spent his first year erecting bureaucratic walls to keep out immigrants and refugees, while calling for a physical wall along the southern US border. In Europe, far-right candidates threatened to upset a host of elections. And, as North Africa acted as a holding cell, conflicts in both the continent's east and centre escalated while humanitarian budgets shrank, driving up the numbers of internally displaced and urgent protection needs.

"What distinguishes conflicts of today is that they're unending," Demetrios Papademetriou, co-founder and president emeritus of the Migration Policy Institute, told IRIN. "None of the conflicts we see today are anywhere near being resolved, because the resolutions are extremely complex. They involve religion, power, control of resources. No refugee-producing conflict today will be resolved in the near future."

UN member states are hammering out the details of two global compacts - one on refugees and one on migration - to be adopted at this year's General Assembly in September. But few are optimistic that they will be game-changers for better global refugee and migration governance in the years to come.

So, while this year promises to be even more difficult, here are five key questions on migration policy the answers to which will shape how 2018 really plays out for some of the world's most vulnerable people:

A dramatic decline in sea crossings from Libya to Europe in 2017 sounds on the surface like a success. But this year is likely to expose the kinds of human rights abuses the EU is willing to tolerate to keep externalising its migration responsibilities.

Like the 2016 EU-Turkey accord - which choked off the Aegean Sea route but led to more than 10,000 asylum seekers being detained on Greek islands and returns to unsafe countries - Italy's deals with Libyan groups have come with a human cost: abuse for up to one million migrants languishing in detention centres, often with ties to militias. Despite an international outcry, mainly due to CNN footage of what appeared to be slave auctions, little is likely to change before Italy's general election in March.

Towards the end of 2017, the EU and the African Union put together a repatriation plan to send migrants back to their countries of origin or other transit countries, such as Niger, with the help of the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration.

"The bigger question is what happens to people when they're back in Niger," Minos Mouzourakis, policy researcher at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles in Brussels, told IRIN. "The EU is talking about resettlement as an option, but that doesn't mean the same people being evacuated to Niger will have access to durable solutions. What is the actual objective? Are we just returning people to another transit country and calling it an evacuation, or are we giving them avenues to other legal options like resettlement?"

Migrant returns are paid for through programmes like a 3.3 billion-euro "emergency trust fund" originally billed as development aid for North Africa.

In late December, 162 refugees and migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen were brought to Italy from Libya under the EU-AU plan. But if the troubled inter-EU relocation programme is any indication, infighting may prevent the bloc from implementing a meaningful plan for resettlement from Africa.

Last year, Trump all but ended resettlement to the United States, which has taken two thirds of the world's resettled refugees annually for the past decade. His executive order last January banned refugees and travellers from several Muslim-majority countries, prompting months of legal battles and indefinitely barring tens of thousands who had cleared the years-long vetting process. Though courts have saved the programme, the president sets the ceiling for refugee admissions, and in September he set it at 45,000 for fiscal year 2018, the lowest level since its inception in 1980. So far, admissions have slowed to a trickle. Many advocates predict the United States won't even come close to Trump's number.

Domestically, this threatens the entire American resettlement regime, since resettlement agencies' federal funding is tied to the number of refugees they assist. Several agencies are already closing offices and laying off personnel.

Other countries are stepping in with increased resettlement pledges, including Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. But those slots won't be enough to fill the hole left by the United States.

"At a time when the international community is trying to come together to promote more equitable responsibility-sharing on refugees, when the US cuts the number of refugees it'll resettle, it sends a very negative signal to the rest of the world," Mark Yarnell, senior advocate and UN liaison for Refugees International in Washington, DC, told IRIN. "And even though resettlement is so rare relative to the number of people who are refugees, it's still the solution many refugees hope for - and when they see it diminishing, they're more likely to take more hazardous paths to safety."

To view full article, click here