World Refugee Day: The power of inclusion

World Refugee Day, 20 June, is the international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order. This goal continues to grow in importance as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that almost 82.5 million were forcibly displaced at the end of 2020.

Analysis | Worldwide | 20 June 2021
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in major disruptions to all countries around the world in 2020, unfortunately it did not reduce the number of conflicts that continue to force people to flee their homes to find safety. Indeed, the pandemic created a further unforeseen dilemma for those trying to flee across borders, as sometimes these were closed as governments sought to stop the spread of the virus. UNHCR points out that, as a result of these closures, many refugees were effectively stranded.

Throughout this challenging time, we have seen a connectedness that transcends borders. Ordinary people have stepped up to help. Host communities have continued to demonstrate a remarkable welcome."

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
The latest UNHCR report, “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2020”, shows that over one per cent of the world’s population, or 1 in 95 people, is now forcibly displaced – up from 1 in 159 people in 2010. In 2020 alone, just over 11 million were forced to flee their homes. This includes people displaced for the first time, as well as those displaced repeatedly within and beyond countries’ borders.

UNHCR points out in this year’s report that the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are key drivers of vulnerability and insecurity among displaced populations. The impact of these dual crises has increased food and economic insecurity, while also creating challenges in accessing health and protection services. The situation underscores the critical importance of the PROSPECTS Partnership Programme and its focus on supporting durable inclusive socio-economic solutions for forcibly displaced populations and the communities that host them.

The PROSPECTS approach also resonates strongly with the Global Call to Action for a Human-Centred Recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic unanimously adopted by the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference, June 2021. The resolution calls for a response that is “inclusive, sustainable and resilient” and that prioritises the creation of “decent jobs for all” and addresses the inequalities caused by the crisis.

In welcoming this important agreement, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder explained that: “The effectiveness and resilience of the recovery from COVID-19  will depend heavily on how broadly-based and socially inclusive it is. Unless we specifically address the inequalities that have deepened during this crisis, there is a very real risk that the economic and social consequences will cause long-term scarring, particularly for disproportionately-affected groups.”

In the context of the PROSPECTS Programme, the ILO will work with its partners to operationalise the ambition of the Call to Action and build back better, more inclusive and equitable economies and societies.

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