One year on from the historic United Nations summit for refugees and migrants, the international community has failed to make meaningful progress towards meeting its goals, Oxfam said today.
To put pressure on world leaders ahead of ongoing negotiations at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Oxfam welcomed refugees into President Trump’s childhood home in the suburb of Queens.
Oxfam rented the home and called on President Trump and other world leaders to do more to support and resettle refugees in the United States and other wealthy countries like Australia.
The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, 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 two “global compacts” that would make these commitments a reality.
But 12 months on, there has been no improvement in refugee crises globally and little sign the countries that agreed the New York Declaration are acting in line with their commitments. According to Oxfam, discriminatory and xenophobic migration-related laws and practices in many parts of the world have not ended.
Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s Executive Director, said from New York this lack of progress had experts worried the valuable opportunity is being squandered and an effective solution would not be agreed upon in 2018.
“The window is closing, 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes; tragically over half are children. The international community – most of all rich governments – can’t wish their suffering away, or pretend there is no global solution. It is time they progressed on their promise to overhaul the refugee system; the more they wait, the harder this will get,” Ms Byanyima said.
Oxfam Australia is calling for our Government to take an active role in negotiations around the global compacts on migration and refugees, to help negotiate an international responsibility sharing agreement for refugees and to continue providing support to countries hosting large numbers of refugees like Turkey, Lebanon and Uganda.
Crucially, the responsibility sharing mechanism should establish each country’s responsibility for hosting, protecting, and caring for refugees. Oxfam’s last assessment showed a sharp inequity in who is looking after people in need of safety, with the richest six countries hosting less than nine per cent of the world’s refugees.
Meanwhile, countries like Uganda and Lebanon have opened their doors to millions of refugees, and despite clear requests for resettlement and humanitarian funds, many wealthier nations are not doing enough.
“The poorer countries of our world cannot and should not have to keep bearing the brunt of this crisis. It is a moral outrage when wealthy nations do not face up to the responsibilities that come with having such riches,” Ms Byanyima said.
Abdi Iftin was one of the refugees welcomed at Trump’s former home, He told his story of first fleeing conflict in Somalia to Kenya, and his journey to America.
“I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to a build a new life in the United States. I had to leave my home and family behind, but here I can work hard and help provide for them. Today especially I feel like I am living the American dream because I can speak out for what I believe in, and I don’t have to be afraid,” Mr Iftin said.
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Oxfam has warned against increased hostility towards refugees and more violent conflicts forcing people to flee.
- Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar, with no obvious solution in sight.
- More than a million refugees from South Sudan have arrived in Uganda – 80 per cent 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.
- 2017 is on track to be the deadliest year for refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean seeking safety and opportunity in Europe, with more than 2,400 people dying as of August. There’s been a 17 per cent increase in deaths on the United States’ southern border.
- The Syrian conflict rages unabated– millions displaced by the war continue to live without sufficient support or protection.
Oxfam staff displayed a “Refugees Welcome” mat and banner in front of Donald Trump’s childhood home in Queens, New York, and invited refugees from three countries – Somalia, Vietnam and Syria – who have resettled in the US to tell their stories and show refugees are just regular people who have faced difficult circumstances. Photos and video content is available.
- Photos and video of the refugee partners and “Refugees Welcome” banner and mat are available here: https://m.box.com/shared_item/https%3A%2F%2Foxfam.box.com%2Fs%2F95jlzfsaalgdj4fnw8a85bww4lk8tmt1/browse/38257342402
- Oxfam was joined by refugee partners Abdi Iftin and Eiman Ali from Somalia, Uyen Nguyen from Vietnam, and Ghassan Shehadeh from Syria.