As the number of people forced to flee their homes continues to grow, it is the world’s poorest countries that are shouldering much of the responsibility for refugees. The Global Compact on Refugees will transform the way the world responds to mass displacement and refugee crises, benefiting both refugees and the communities that host them.

What is the Global Compact?

The Global Compact on Refugees sets out clear measures for States and other stakeholders to better share responsibility and cooperate more effectively in the response to large-scale movements of refugees. In a historic decision, the compact was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in December 2018. The Global Compact has four objectives:

1. Ease pressures on countries that welcome and host refugees
2. Build self-reliance of refugees
3. Expand access to resettlement in third countries and other pathways
4. Support conditions that enable refugees to voluntarily return to their home countries

Congolese refugees attend a primary school supported by UNHCR in Mwange Refugee Camp in Zambia, one of several refugee-hosting African countries applying the CRRF. © UNHCR/J. Redden

What is the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework?

The New York Declaration, which was signed by all 193 United Nations Member States in September 2016, lays out a vision for a fairer and more sustainable response to refugee crises. Known as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, or CRRF, it is this framework that the Global Compact is based upon.

What does the CRRF involve?

The CRRF demonstrates a shift in thinking towards the significant value refugees can bring to host communities. At the same time it recognises that host communities need to be better supported by all parts of the international community. This means governments, NGOs, other UN agencies and refugees, as well as the private sector, international financial institutions and civil society, including think tanks, academia and faith-based groups.

Inclusion is at the heart of the CRRF. The average length of time people remain displaced is 20 years. To force someone to put their life on hold and stay dependent on aid for two decades deprives them of their right to a dignified, productive and rewarding life.

By allowing refugees to become part of host communities from the beginning – being allowed to work, study, access healthcare, and enjoy the rights and responsibilities of citizenship – they are given a chance to realise their potential and contribute to society and the local economy.

What progress has been made so far?

Significant changes in refugee law, policies and responses are already taking hold in many regions, including Central America, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Zambia and Kenya. In Costa Rica, Venezuelan refugees receive employment skills training and support to set up their own businesses, while in Uganda’s Rhino camp settlement, internet access enables refugees and locals to study. 

Uganda is one of the CRRF pilot countries and is implementing its refugee policies in line with the framework. The government grants refugees the same rights as nationals, including freedom of movement, the right to work, and access to public services such as education.

As part of the CRRF pilot, Australia for UNHCR is helping establish the first Vocational Training Centre in Kyaka II refugee settlement. This centre will give young refugees and Ugandan nationals the opportunity to gain accredited qualifications and build meaningful futures for themselves and their families.

You can help displaced people build a better future for themselves and their families.

Students attend a hairdressing class at the Vocational Training Centre in Nakivale refugee settlement, Uganda. © Australia for UNHCR

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