World Refugee Day: June 20, 2017
On this annual World Refugee Day, the number of displaced persons in the world is at a record high. Political instability, violent conflict, and a fear of persecution have displaced nearly 66 million people globally. As complicated conflicts rage on, there is little hope for complete resolution in the near future. But this does not render the rest of the world powerless. Through resettlement programs, peace-keeping initiatives, and community-based refugee assistance infrastructure, progress is being made towards providing refugees with new opportunities for mobility. At CSIS, our experts are examining diverse ways to alleviate the strain on displaced persons today. Take a look at some of the past events CSIS has hosted to explore solutions to the refugee crisis:
CSIS and the Project on Prosperity and Development hosted a discussion with Dr. Matthew McGuire, the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank, on how organizations and development implementers can better coordinate to help solve the growing refugee crisis. Dr. McGuire was joined by Jon Brause, the Washington Director at the World Food Programme, as well as Nina Nieuwoudt, the Senior Business Leader for Humanitarian and Public Sector affairs at Mastercard. The diverse panel described a great landscape of how diverse agencies work together to solve some of the defining transnational issues of our era: the growing refugee crises. This panel discussion provided recommendations on how partnership among governments and NGOs can curb displacement rates around the world.
CSIS hosted a conversation with Pia Wanek, Director of Humanitarian Assistance., for Global Communities. Ms. Wanek spoke about bridging the gap between emergency assistance and long term development in crises by working to build trust within affected communities. To combat crises more effectively, humanitarian assistance must focus on not only fulfilling basic needs, but also engaging local stakeholders through both emergency and long term development efforts. Ms. Wanek discussed her resilience-oriented relief efforts in food security and shelter in Northern Syria as examples of this adaptive approach.
CSIS hosted an expert panel discussion on the implications of the global refugee and humanitarian crisis for international development. The discussion featured opening keynote remarks from Andrew Natsios, former USAID administrator and current Director of the Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs at Texas A&M University.
With nearly 60 million refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons, worldwide displacement is at a record high. The current system for processing and assisting refugees is at a breaking point. A variety of solutions that meet the complex realities of refugees, countries of origin, and host countries must be generated to encourage stability and create a precedent for human rights and security. Finding the appropriate blend of official development assistance, restructuring existing roles for outside actors, and reducing the fragility and conflict that drives people away from their countries of origin will lead to a more stable and productive future.
The Human Rights Initiative and the Global Food Security Project hosted a report launch and discussion on the linkages between human rights, food security, migration, and displacement in Djibouti. With unprecedented levels of displacement, the international system is at a breaking point — its creaky infrastructure is ill-equipped to handle the 95.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance worldwide. Fears of reduced international assistance are growing, even as partners currently operate on less than half of what they need to serve the most vulnerable and food insecure populations.
Djibouti provides a window into the stresses and opportunities facing the international humanitarian assistance community. As a frontline country in a volatile region, Djibouti has dealt with a protracted refugee situation and high levels of poverty and food insecurity for decades, which is now exacerbated by an influx of Yemeni refugees and migrants and asylum seekers from Ethiopia and Somalia. Yemen and Somalia are both on the brink of a famine with incredibly high levels of food insecurity. Limited funding and attention have complicated solutions for these challenges. The U.S. government alongside other actors must find the gaps in their current response as well as what opportunities this moment of crisis may create.