GENEVA – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today launched a new global campaign entitled ‘Hope Away from Home’ calling for renewed solidarity and firm commitments from States to uphold the rights of people seeking safety from war, violence and persecution.
The campaign comes amid record global levels of forced displacement (110 million people), with access to asylum under threat in many parts of the world from increasingly restrictive policies and shrinking options for long-term solutions and resettlement.
In some places, populist anti-refugee sentiment, externalization of asylum obligations, rising discrimination and xenophobia, and tougher and more restrictive admission policies are threatening the right to seek safety. With insufficient safe and legal routes to asylum, it is harder for people forced to flee their homes to access safe territory and other rights. Many are therefore forced to take dangerous routes by irregular means (including by land or sea) to reach safety.
While many countries and communities welcome and protect refugees, enabling them to restart their lives and make important contributions to their host societies, more States must follow suit and show solidarity with other countries – particularly the low- and middle-income countries where the large majority of the world’s refugees are received.
“People fleeing war, violence and persecution should be met with compassion and kindness, not barriers, restrictions and discrimination, which should have no place in today’s world. They need safety and protection, and it is the responsibility of the international community to come together to find lasting solutions that allow them to live in safety and dignity,’’ said Elizabeth Tan, Director of UNHCR’s Division of International Protection.
Under the banner of ‘’Hope Away from Home”, the campaign calls for enhanced global solidarity to be turned into concrete action and solutions through greater international cooperation, legal reforms and policy change.
Over the next three years, UNHCR, through this campaign, will work together with other partners and stakeholders to advocate for law and policy change in five key areas:
“Many States are showing commendable solidarity in welcoming people who have been forced to flee, despite their own domestic challenges. But more needs to be done to support those communities that receive them. With this campaign there is an opportunity to do more in solidarity with millions of forcibly displaced people and the communities hosting them, by focusing on our shared humanity and working together to find solutions,” said Dominique Hyde, Director of UNHCR’s Division of External Relations.
The campaign launch marks 100 days until the Global Refugee Forum (GRF); the biggest international gathering of world leaders and decision-makers, civil society organizations, international institutions and other stakeholders to find solutions for refugees and their host communities. The GRF provides an opportunity for States to renew their commitments to protecting the rights of refugees and to find solutions that allow them not only to live in dignity but to thrive and contribute to their new host countries.
Responsibility for supporting refugees and ensuring their protection should be a shared one among States and no one country should have to shoulder this responsibility on its own. Hosting large numbers of refugees can place immense strain on the resources, infrastructure and social services of host countries. The displacement of people due to war, violence and persecution is a global humanitarian issue, and the international community has a collective responsibility to work together to find lasting and sustainable solutions for people in need of safety and international protection.
The campaign is also accompanied by the launch of a global petition calling for members of the public, organizations and world leaders to take a stand and add their name in solidarity with refugees and the right to seek safety from war, violence and persecution.
The petition will be showcased at the GRF as a gesture of solidarity from people around the world.
UNHCR is on the ground working in 135 countries to deliver life-saving aid and protection in emergencies, advocate for improved asylum laws and systems so displaced people can access their rights, and help find long-term solutions so they can return home in safety or build a future in a new country. UNHCR carries out its mandate on behalf of refugees by working alongside States and other partners, including refugees and host communities, to ensure that people forced to flee can access their rights and find solutions to live in dignity and safety.