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Shifting power: A conversation about building a global refugee sector that puts refugees first

‘Meaningful refugee participation and the full integration of refugees is not optional.’

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Between COP28, the war in Gaza, and the holiday season, this year’s Global Refugee Forum may have flown under the radar for many. But more than 3,000 people gathered in Geneva last week for what the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) dubbed “the world's largest international gathering on refugees”.

This was only the second-ever Global Refugee Forum (GRF). The convening, which happens every four years, aims to take stock of progress towards meeting the objectives laid out in the Global Compact on Refugees.

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2018, the compact put forward a blueprint for how countries, international organisations, and other stakeholders can better respond to international forced displacement.

At the GRF, pledges for action are adopted and then progress is assessed four years later at the next gathering. One of the hot topics this year was representation, and refugees’ participation in decision-making about the policies that affect their lives.

At the first GRF, there were around 70 refugee delegates; this year, that number rose to more than 300. While that’s progress, questions remain over whether the inclusion has allowed refugees to really have an impact or if they are being tokenised or co-opted by governments and institutions that are hesitant to delegate power.

That was the topic of “From refugee inclusion to shifting power: Building a global refugee sector that puts refugees first”, an event The New Humanitarian organised with Refugees International and Asylum Access on the sidelines of the GRF. Watch a recording of the powerful and challenging conversation below.

Speakers:

  • Sana Mustafa, Asylum Access CEO (moderator) 
  • Ana María Diez, President of Coalición por Venezuela and Fellow at Refugees International
  • Matai Muon, South Sudanese refugee and graduate student
  • Mohammed Naeem, Deputy Director of Strategy and Partnerships at American Immigration Council, and Advisor on the US Refugee Advisory Board
  • Farhad Shamo Roto, Founder of Voice of Ezidis and Fellow at Refugees International 
  • Hafsar Tameesuddin, Co-Secretary General, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN)
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