Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Live blog: Global Refugee Forum 2023 – Day 3

A group of smiling, cheering people take a selfie in Chicago at World Refugee Day celebrations

Live blog: Global Refugee Forum 2023 – Day 3

15 December 2023

The Global Refugee Forum 2023 takes place from 13 to 15 December at the Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland.

Held every four years, the Forum is the world’s largest international gathering on refugees. It is designed to support the practical implementation of the objectives set out in the Global Compact on Refugees.

Follow the live blog for up-to-date highlights from Day 3 of the Global Refugee Forum 2023.


7.44 pm: That's all from the Global Refugee Forum!

After three days of engagement, collaboration and action, the Global Refugee Forum 2023 has drawn to a close.

Here are the headline numbers: 4,200 participants from 168 countries, including over 300 refugee delegates; 10,000 people following online; 1,600 pledges to support refugees and their hosts, including 43 multi-partner commitments led by governments; an estimated $2.2 billion in new financial commitments by states and other actors, including some $250 million pledged by the private sector.

These outcomes offer a source of hope to more than 36 million refugees worldwide. Now the focus switches to turning these pledges into concrete action.

As Evode Hakizimana, a refugee of Burundian origin living in Zimbabwe, said during the Forum: “Yes, we do need hope. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Because once we start to act, hope is everywhere.”

Thank you for following and join us again for the next Forum in four years.

6.23 pm: UNHCR’s Grandi hails ‘determined unity’ shown at GRF

Switzerland. Final plenary and closing ceremony on day three of the Global Refugee Forum 2023

Delegates applaud during the final plenary session of the Global Refugee Forum.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi celebrated the cooperative spirit on display throughout the Forum to deliver solutions for refugees, despite the “divided and disordered” state of the world.  

“Against this very challenging backdrop, the easy thing would have been for you to retreat and step back from international commitments,” Grandi said. “But you did not. Instead, you came in full force and spent three days here exemplifying determined unity!” 

The High Commissioner said he had been inspired to see so many actors committing action, funding and other forms of assistance as part of more than 1,600 pledges for refugees and their hosts. “Seeing you stand together, pledging together, delivering results together, was not just impressive, but emotional.” 
Grandi reserved special thanks for the more than 300 refugee delegates who attended and participated in the Forum throughout the three days.  

“Your articulate interventions reminded us what you’ve experienced and gone through, forced us to confront what refugees need, but also – and most importantly – allowed us to be inspired by what you bring,” he said. “And what I heard was that, yes, humanitarian assistance is imperative if we are to help, but what you really crave is opportunity. To be included."

6.02 pm: Over 1,600 pledges made, more than $2.2 billion committed

Switzerland. Final plenary and closing ceremony on day three of the Global Refugee Forum 2023

Patricia Danzi, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, announces the conclusions of the GRF 2023 on behalf of the co-hosts and co-convenors.

Patricia Danzi, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, has announced the preliminary outcomes of the Forum to the plenary on behalf the co-hosts – UNHCR and Switzerland – and co-convenors – Colombia, France, Japan, Jordan and Uganda. 

“Over 1,600 pledges have been mobilized through this GRF, of which approximately 1,300 are financial, material, technical, policy, and other support, contributing to one or more of the 43 multistakeholder pledges,” Schraner Burgener said. 

“As pledges continue to be tallied, a preliminary assessment indicates that over $2.2 billion in financial commitments were pledged over the coming years, in addition to both replenished and new dedicated bilateral and multilateral development funding instruments for refugee hosting countries,” she added. 

5.04 pm: GRF a ‘bright burst of light’ in a dark year

Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, is seen onscreen at the final plenary and Closing Ceremony of the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the final plenary session of the Global Refugee Forum 2023 via video link.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres told delegates that the Global Refugee Forum was “helping to stem the tide of misery”, providing “a bright burst of light in what has been a dark and troubling year.” 

The Secretary-General said the responsibility for helping refugees should not fall disproportionately on a few countries – mostly in the global south – based solely on their geographic location, but is an obligation shared by all of humanity. 

“This year’s pledges and commitments breathe life into the great promise of the Global Compact on Refugees not only to support refugees, but to ease pressure on host countries and tackle the systemic issues that cause people to flee in the first place,” Guterres said. 

4.39 pm: Combating online misinformation and hate speech

Switzerland. Stakeholders announce new pledges on day three of the Global Refugee Forum 2023

Santiago de la Mora, Managing Director for Global Partnerships at Google, announcing the Digital Protection and Action Against Hate Speech pledge on Friday.

“New technology can be a tool for exchange and communication, but also a tool for false information – dis- and misinformation – about populations,” said Ally Mulumba Ntumba, a Congolese refugee now living in the United States. 

The rise of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech on digital platforms has had real-life consequences for refugees like Ntumba. At this session, several participants shared tools, policies and approaches for addressing online harms. They also recognized the need for a community-led approach and stronger partnerships between technology companies, the humanitarian sector and governments.  

Others pledged to take action to prevent the harmful impacts of online mis/disinformation and hate speech on displaced people through research, development, consultation and partnership with forcibly displaced people and through the application of innovative tools and interventions. Among 20 contributions to a multi-stakeholder pledge, were pledges from tech firms Google and Meta. 

4.30 pm: Countries pledge to resettle more refugees

United Kingdom. Great British Welcome Story: Wafa Murad, resettlement and the Rothesay community, Rothesay, Isle of Bute

Syrian refugee Wafa Murad (middle) with Sudanese friends Sumaia Adam (right) and Hanan Adam Mohamed (left) in the small town of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. Wafa and her two sons were resettled there in 2021.  

“Resettlement is not just moving physically from one space to another, but gives people the opportunity for a dignified life, education, labour, equality,” said Shaza Alrihawi, co-founder of the Global Refugee-led Network (GRN) and the Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders (GIRWL), describing what being resettled can mean for refugees. 

Resettlement can be life-changing for individual refugees, but it is also an important way for States to show solidarity with countries hosting large refugee situations.  

“Türkiye has shared a significant burden for a long time. The earthquake further exacerbated this pressure. Expanded resettlement places and diversified pathways are crucial,” said Senol Uzun, Head of Türkiye’s Resettlement and Voluntary Repatriation Department. 

Earlier today, states pledged to resettle 1 million refugees by 2030, while governments and charitable foundations launched a pledge backed by a new global sponsorship fund to help a further 3 million refugees access third countries through community sponsorship schemes

4.29 pm: Two key ingredients for reporting on refugees: ethics and funding

Switzerland. Linked full-day event on refugee access to education at the Global Refugee Forum 2023

Panel moderator and refugee youth leader Nhial Deng, a South Sudanese refugee living in Canada, speaks at another event at the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

For the past decade, global news headlines have been dominated by stories of conflict, desperation and the perilous journeys refugees are forced to take. But such coverage can be influenced by misrepresentation, stereotyping, bias and racism, according to veteran journalists at a GRF event on ethical and inclusive refugee reporting.

To avoid perpetuating inaccurate stereotypes, refugees must be allowed to tell their own stories, said speakers on the panel, which was moderated by South Sudanese refugee and youth advocate Nhial Deng.

“I won’t commission a story about refugees if there aren’t any refugee voices in it,” said Anealla Safdar, Europe Editor for Al Jazeera Online. “They are the ones who can tell us what they have been witness to.”

She added that many parts of the media had demonized migrants and conflated migrants and refugees since the major influx of Syrian refugees into Europe in 2015.

“Behind every refugee there is a story about why they are leaving their country,” said Rasto Kuzel, Executive Director of Memo 98, a Slovakia-based media organization. He described a UNESCO project funded by the Government of Japan that was allowing reporters to hear directly from refugees, whose personal accounts were vital for cutting through what he described as “war fatigue” and countering disinformation.

“Unfortunately, most of the media don’t have finances to support good quality stories on refugees.”

4.27 pm: Delivering development programmes during the Sudan crisis

Refugees wait in lines near a UNHCR-branded truck to collect boxes of supplies.

Relief items are distributed to newly arrived Sudanese refugees in Chad.

Since fighting broke out in Sudan on 15 April, over 7 million people have been displaced inside Sudan and across the region, with huge impacts for neighbouring countries such as Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan. This session focused on the vital role that development actors have a to play in ensuring refugees and host communities have access to essential services such as health and education, as well as economic opportunities that can make them less reliant on humanitarian aid. 

“The social and economic consequences of the conflict are catastrophic,” said Dr. Yero Baldeh of the African Development Bank. “Our experience shows us that we can continue to stay engaged when we join forces across humanitarian, development and peacebuilding partners.”  

Both Dr Baldeh and Abdi Abdullahi from the Islamic Development Bank said they would continue investing in the resilience of communities.  

“Our commitment goes beyond financial support and also aims to build lasting hope to ignite a beacon of hope for the future,” said Abdullahi.  

Every speaker at the event stressed that what Sudan needs above all else, is peace. 

4.20 pm: Finding joint solutions for displaced Central Africans

Félix Moloua

Félix Moloua, Prime Minister of the Central African Republic (CAR), speaks at a session on Friday called “Solutions in the Context of Forced Displacement Related to The Central African Republic Crisis”.

The Prime Minister of the Central African Republic (CAR), Félix Moloua, pledged to work with host countries and international partners to deliver solutions for some 1.2 million forcibly displaced Central Africans at a side event at the Forum on Friday. The Prime Minister hailed the recent launch of an international solutions support platform for CAR – where some 490,000 people are internally displaced – and six neighbouring countries hosting some 750,000 refugees: Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Congo, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan.

“This showed our political will to work together, to strengthen our collaboration, to find concrete solutions for refugees, internally displaced people and returning Central Africans with the support of the international community,” the Prime Minister said. “We are looking forward to solutions and also to social cohesion, peace and the development of the Central African Republic. We’re convinced that, together, it is possible to create a real change.”

Gédéon Panté, a refugee from CAR who fled to Cameroon, described the challenge he faced building “a completely new life in a new environment” before gaining a university scholarship and moving to France to study for a master’s degree. He called on the government representatives in the session to facilitate “the significant participation of refugees and internally displaced people in the solutions platform.”

4.14 pm: Transforming refugee camps into integrated settlements

A man serves a customer in a shop

Siaka Manirafasha, 27, in his shop in Kalobeyei refugee settlement in Kenya where he employs five refugees and one Kenyan.

While over half the world’s population of forcibly displaced people now live in cities, nearly 20 per cent still live in camps or camp-like environments. But there is an alternative – climate-resilient, sustainable human settlements where refugees and host community members live alongside one another.  

“Today, more and more refugees are in communities,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, as he opened an event aimed at expanding support for this approach. “There are countries which have decided to move from encampment to a settlement approach that is more integrated in the hosting community, which is life-changing for people.” 

He described the traditional camp model as unsustainable over time, he pointed to approaches adopted by Ethiopia and Kenya which earlier this year announced its Shirika Plan. The Plan aims to turn the Kakuma and Dadaab camps into integrated settlements over the next few years, with support from donor countries.  

“The Shirika Plan will harness the potential that refuges come with,” said Ambassador Professor Julius Bitok, Principal Secretary from Kenya’s State Department of Immigration and Citizen Services. “Rather than confining refugees, we create opportunities [for them] to participate in local economies...we empower displaced individuals to build their lives once again.” 


4.05 pm: Scaling up Climate Action in Displacement Settings

Santos Madhieu Mawien, UNHCR refugee journalism mentee reporting from Geneva

Santos Madhieu Mawien, UNHCR refugee journalism mentee reporting from Geneva

A man watering seedlings

Mohammed Ali, a refugee volunteer, waters seedlings at Kutupalong camp for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“Climate change is affecting millions of people, especially in camp settings. In a matter of seconds or hours, you will see your efforts, all the things that you have been working for many years vanishing off,” said Joelle Hangi, Inclusivity Lead at the Global Platform for Action, speaking at a side event on Climate Action in Displacement Settings this morning.

More than 70 per cent of refugees and internally displaced people come from countries that are among the most vulnerable to climate change and have the least resources to adapt.

Joelle, who was forced to flee her home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at a young age and grew up in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, called on stakeholders to work together to address the climate crisis.

UNHCR and partners, including IGAD member states, discussed the details of new multi-stakeholder pledges to strengthen the protection, preparedness, and resilience of forcibly displaced people and their hosts.

3.17 pm: What we can learn from mayors about refugee inclusion

Mayor of Koboko Sanya Wilson

Mayor of Koboko Sanya Wilson speaking at the event: ‘Solidarity in Cities: Learning from Mayors on Refugee Inclusion in Urban Areas’.

“Cities are dealers of hope!” said Sanya Wilson, Mayor of the northern Ugandan town of Koboko, at a session today where mayors from cities around the world shared their experiences of welcoming and supporting refugees and of how they have gained support by partnering with national authorities, UN agencies and the private sector.  

“Koboko’s ability to receive direct funding from the EU was transformational and allowed my city to accomplish in two years what otherwise would have taken 40 … It is really all about inclusiveness. It is very simple and can be replicated anywhere,” said Wilson. 

Most refugees end up in cities rather than camps, meaning that mayors and local authorities have a critical role to play in refugee responses, and in achieving the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees. From providing emergency housing to connecting refugees to jobs, many cities have risen to the challenge but need more support to cope with the pressures created by a sudden influx of people. 

“San Antonio, like every city at this event, is doing a lot, but we cannot do it alone,” said Ron Nirenberg Mayor of San Antonio in the United States. To the global group of countries, foundations, and business leaders listening here – join us, support us, and invest in us. When refugee inclusion works in cities, refugee inclusion works nationally.” 

1.35 pm: Supporting refugees and host communities in the East and Horn of Africa

Two women sit in a field

Fatuma Hasan Mohamed is a trader who buys vegetables from the Kenyans and refugees who farm together in Kakuma’s Choro region.

The eight countries that make up the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region host some 4.5 million refugees from countries such as South Sudan, Somalia and Sudan, as well as 14 million internally displaced people. At the first GRF in 2019, international donors, humanitarian and development organizations, and private sector actors launched a support platform to help the regional political body known as IGAD respond to specific crises and promote regional solutions for refugees and their hosts through access to health, education and work. 

“Currently, our IGAD region harbours one of the highest concentrations of displaced people,” said Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of IGAD at a session this morning focused on finding solutions for displaced people in the region. “The IGAD member states, despite facing financial constraints, continue to maintain an open-door policy to refugees and have made commendable commitments to finding durable solutions” 

Adhieu Achuil Dhieu, a member of the UNHCR Advisory Board on Refugee & Stateless Persons, called on IGAD to focus on peacebuilding and also to create a platform for greater participation by refugees. “We need a refugee secretariat that will be able to follow up [on progress] like, for instance, this event. We don’t want to come and talk and go without following what is happening and what has been done so far.” 

During Friday’s event, IGAD governments and support platform members took stock of progress and shared details of major new pledges to improve the lives of refugees, returnees and host communities in the region, as well as specific measures to address climate change

“The IGAD support platform, with its well-defined areas on economic and sustainable development and climate, is helpful, and Ethiopia's own pledges made at the GRF fit into these areas ... working together we can build a prosperous society inclusive of refugees,” said Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia. 

12.35 pm: Sports Without Borders event is a slam dunk

Switzerland. Linked event with sports activities for refugees and attendees at the Global Refugee Forum 2023

Refugees living in Geneva and elsewhere compete in a basketball match at the International School of Geneva.

Refugees and migrants living in Geneva teamed up with refugees from around the world attending the GRF, bringing a global dimension to an evening of “Sports Without Borders” at the International School of Geneva’s Nations campus.

Points were scored and friendships formed during matches of basketball, volleyball and futsal, organized by Association Pervenches and Flag21, two Geneva-based associations that train refugee coaches and put on sporting activities for refugees and migrants living in the Swiss city.  

12.27 pm: “Make peace in the world,” says Syrian refugee and artisan

Opira Bosco Okot, a South Sudanese refugee and journalist currently working as an intern at UNHCR, interviewed Maral Sheuhmelian, a Syrian refugee and embroidery artist who creates beautiful pieces for MADE51, UNHCR’s sustainable livelihoods initiative.

12.21 pm: Finding solutions for Rohingya refugees

Switzerland. High-level event on comprehensive approaches to solutions for Rohingya refugees at the Global Refugee Forum 2023

Speakers at Thursday's high-level event: ‘Rohingya Refugees: Enhanced Resilience, Expanded Solutions’.

More than 1 million Rohingya refugees are living in the Asia and Pacific region, mostly in densely populated refugee settlements in Bangladesh. But funding to provide them with humanitarian assistance is dwindling amidst competing global priorities, even as they lack possibilities to support themselves or plan for the future. This year, desperate Rohingya children, women and men have also been taking dangerous boat journeys.  

“With newer crises evolving around globe, the Rohingya should not be forgotten” said Masud Bin Momen, the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh at an event on Thursday evening aimed at easing pressure on major host countries like Bangladesh and helping Rohingya refugees become more resilient. “The basic needs of the Rohingya should be met by the international community until they return to a better and safer future in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.” 

Governments, private sector actors and civil society groups pledged to provide ongoing support for the humanitarian response as well as to support skills development and opportunities for third-country solutions. 

11.54 am: Pledges made during final “GCR in action” session

The final day’s opening plenary session began with a last “GCR in action” session of multi-stakeholder pledge announcements. They included:

  • Pledges on resettlement and community sponsorship – by 2030, states pledged to resettle 1 million refugees by 2030, while governments and charitable foundations launched a pledge backed by a new global sponsorship fund to help a further 3 million refugees access third countries through community sponsorship schemes.
  • Refugee participation – more than 100 organizations committed to promoting the meaningful participation of refugees by including them on governing boards and in decisions that affect their lives.
  • Digital Protection – led by Google, and including Meta and other partners, this pledge commits companies and other organizations to increase resources devoted to understanding, addressing and preventing misinformation and hate speech against displaced and stateless communities and humanitarian responses.
  • Peacebuilding – 32 states led by Colombia, Egypt and Norway and supported by the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs pledged to engage with countries of origin to address the root causes of displacement and facilitate safe returns by promoting peace and economic development.
  • Risk of trafficking and alternatives to child detention – The UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons announced a pledge supported by UNHCR to improve protection mechanisms to mitigate the risk of trafficking for refugees and migrants, while states and other stakeholders pledged proposals to end the detention of refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children.

11.14 am: Easing the burden on refugee hosts in the Middle East and North Africa

Three men speak on a panel

H.E. Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan speaks at the high-level side event on burden- and responsibility-sharing in the Middle East and North Africa on Thursday.

During a high-level side event on burden- and responsibility-sharing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on Thursday, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Raouf Mazou commended Jordan and Lebanon’s “remarkable hosting of refugee communities” including large numbers of Syrian refugees, who make up the largest share of the 15.6 million refugees hosted across the region.

Government representatives from both countries described their respective efforts to include refugees in their national systems, but also set out the pressing challenges they face.

“In Jordan, we are way above capacity. We have done everything we possibly can to provide refugees with a dignified life,” said H.E. Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan. “But the challenge is mounting and given the economic challenges we’re facing as a country, we don’t want to come to a point where we have to choose whether we give the last remaining seat in a classroom to a Syrian or a Jordanian.”

“We have to all come together to share the burden because we invest in the right for people to live with dignity, with opportunity,” the minister concluded.

Significant financial pledges were announced during the session, including Qatar Charity, which pledged $105 million to support more than 1 million forcibly displaced people around the globe. The Big Heart Foundation, based in the United Arab Emirates, pledged $5 million to support refugees across the MENA region in areas such as health care, shelter and water and sanitation.

9.46 am: See the highlights from Day 2

Watch our video highlights reel to get a sense of yesterday’s action at Palexpo.

Play the video: Here is what happened in Day 2 of the Global #RefugeeForum

9.40 am: What to look out for on Day 3

Here are the expected highlights for the final day (all times in CET):

  • Morning plenary session (10:00-13:00) – discussions on burden- and responsibility-sharing and a final round of multi-stakeholder pledge announcements (follow on the live stream)
  • High-level events (11:00-12:30) – topics include resettlement, cities and urban policy, climate action and support for refugees in East Africa.
  • High-level events (cont. 13:00-14:30) – topics include sustainable human settlements and statelessness.
  • High-level events (cont. 15:00-16:30) – topics include the Sudan crisis, advancing localization and combating misinformation and hate speech.
  • Closing plenary session (15:00-18:00) – further discussions on burden- and responsibility-sharing and closing statements from the co-convenors, UN Secretary-General (via video link), and co-hosts (live streamed).

You can view the full programme here.

8.49 am: Final day of the Global Refugee Forum 2023

Three people holding up a sign saying 'I pledge'

Stakeholders announce new pledges on day two of the Global Refugee Forum 2023 in Geneva.

Hello and welcome to our rolling coverage of the third and final day at the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

Yesterday at the Forum, participants announced a series of multi-partner pledges on everything from health and education to family reunification and travel documents for refugees. There were also debates on a range of pressing issues that brought together high-level officials, representatives from businesses and civil society, and many of the more than 300 refugee delegates at the Forum.

Catch up with all the action on our Day 2 live blog, and check back here throughout the day for updates from the final day.