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. Meanwhile, the global response to large-scale movements of people remains inadequate and underfunded, leaving refugees with an uncertain future.

What is the Global Compact?

The Global Compact for 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. The text of the compact will be proposed by the High Commissioner for Refugees in his 2018 annual report to the United Nations General Assembly in September.

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.

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 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, Uganda, Zambia and Kenya.

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.

In November last year, the 900,000 refugees living in Ethiopia were given the right to documentation under the country’s national civil registration system. Having a legal identity will give these people access to basic services including education, as well the right to work and the ability to obtain birth, death and marriage certificates. Djibouti also adopted a new refugee law in January 2017, shifting away from refugee camps towards settling people in communities.

Have you signed the #WithRefugees petition yet? Add your voice to the global movement to protect the rights of refugees.

Refugee students learn to make dresses at the Bujubuli Vocational Training Centre in Kyaka II settlement, west of Uganda’s capital Kampala. ©Australia for UNHCR

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