Participation of refugee-led and diaspora organizations at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum
In the months leading up to the first Global Refugee Forum held on 16-18 December 2019 in Geneva, the Danish Refugee Council has been collaborating with diaspora and refugee-led organisations, organising workshops designed to promote their meaningful participation in the Forum.
The workshops were held in Europe on 31 August - 1st September 2019 in Berlin (24 participants), on 14 September 2019 in Copenhagen (16 participants), in the Middle East on 5-6 October 2019 in Istanbul (16 participants), and in East Africa on 26-27 November 2019 in Nairobi (21 participants).
The purpose of the regional workshops was to identify good ideas, map existing good practices, and facilitate collaboration around pledges and commitments from those working at the grassroots level with refugees in their host country and region of origin.
The consultations engaged a total of 77 individuals representing refugee-led and diaspora organisations from a range of countries across Europe, the Middle East and East Africa in a day and a half of discussion.
All the working groups chose to focus mainly on protection, education, jobs and livelihoods, and energy and infrastructure, as ‘solutions’ outcomes such as resettlement and complementary pathways were seen to be more within the remit of States.
Participants generally agreed that employment is crucial for asylum seekers and refugees. This is especially true since employment is a vehicle for refugees to contribute to society rather than remain beneficiaries. Participants also reported that education is essential to improve the living standards of refugees and is essential for contributing to society. At the same time, it was emphasized that employment and education paths must never overshadow the need for protection that refugees have.
The concerns raised in each country were reflective of local circumstances, and ranged from questions of mutual cultural education between host and diaspora-refugee communities in Germany, to the need for mentoring young refugees in navigating the educational system in Denmark, to difficulties in securing employment and stable livelihoods for refugees in Turkey, and the importance of education, digital literacy for those living as refugees in Kenya.
The workshops confirmed that refugee-led and diaspora organisations have significant capacity to improve the lives of those affected by displacement. Through their knowledge, access, they have sizeable experience and expertise to inform public debates and innovate policymaking.
Diaspora, community-based and refugee-led organisations in the three regions are eager to continue to play a complementary role alongside other stakeholders in addressing the needs of refugees, asylum seekers and returnees, and to engage further.
The consultations have highlighted that increased formal and structured engagement between refugees and diasporas speaks to the GRF interest and objectives.
Video "Expectations of Refugee and Diaspora-led organizations in East Africa for the Global Refugee Forum"