States and stakeholders in Northern Europe are showing Solidarity in Action at the Global Refugee Forum by pledging to create solutions in the region and beyond – and strengthen support for refugees and their host communities.
© UNHCR/Antoine Tardy
The world is coming together in Geneva for the Global Refugee Forum, 16-18 December to take stock, mobilize action and make bold pledges towards an improved global refugee response.
It’s a unique and landmark opportunity to create new and strong partnerships, find innovative solutions, and strengthen the overall support to both refugees and host communities, thus ensuring inclusive approaches and building refugees’ self-relieance.
Find here some of the pledges coming from the Northern Europe region – both from states, NGOs, civil society and other stakeholders, pledging alone or jointly with partners including across borders and sectors. A full overview can be found at UNHCR’s pledge dashboard here.
Lithuania has so far been the only country in Northern Europe to participate in the temporary disembarkation mechanism from the Mediterranean, relocating refugees and migrants, disembarked in Malta and Greece. Lithuania commits to continue its engagement in these relocation efforts.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) pledges to advance its multi-stakeholder engagement to sustain solutions locally, nationally and regionally in the East and Horn of Africa Region.
Denmark will support the inclusion of refugee children in national school systems in both Uganda and Ethiopia, and contributes with 35 million DKK to the efforts in each country. Press release from Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs here. The support to refugee children in Ethiopia is part of a joint pledge with Global Partnership for Education, the government of Ethiopia and with support from also the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Read more about the project here.
This year, 75 refugees were resettled in Iceland as part of the Government’s resettlement programme that has seen an increase already, and in proportion to Iceland’s population size, these are significant figures. Iceland pledges to increase the resettlement quota by 33 percent in the next two years.
The Finnish Government, by the Ministry of Interior, states that the number of quota refugees will be increased to a minimum of 850 in 2020. This number will thereafter be assessed annually and set at 850–1,050.
Lithuania pledges to amend the law to start integrating asylum seekers into the labour market in the first instance of their asylum stage after six months have passed.
Estonia will provide increased technical support and assistance, and also help considering how trusted digital identities for refugees can contribute to achieving the goals of the Global Compact on Refugees. Digital innovative solutions could be applied in all the six focus areas of the Global Refugee Forum.
As submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland will support the organization of strengthening disability efforts through enhanced technical capacity in the form of funding a Junior Professional Officer (JPO) to join one of UNHCR’s Regional Bureaus.
The network involves relevant stakeholders in order to provide alternative integration and build effective refugees advocacy (civil society + private sector + local authorities). Civil society in Lithuania brings together the private sector and local authorities to strengthen the integration support for refugees in Lithuania by establishing this support network. In addition, Lithuania pledges to enhance cooperation of institutions dealing with integration.
UNESCO, with the support of the Governments of Sweden, Norway and Switzerland together with Education Cannot Wait, Dubai Cares and the Global Partnership for Education, pledges to strengthen national education systems by providing member states with expertise and technical guidance for policy design, implementation and planning support for the inclusion of refugees into all levels of national education systems. Click here to read the press release from UNESCO.
Norway is pledging to increase the country’s resettlement quota to 3.000 refugees next year.
Norway will provide consistent humanitarian efforts worldwide with a specific allocation of 1 billion NOK to end and address sexual and gender-based violence.
Denmark pledges support to the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI), the largest global higher education scholarship program for refugees. In 2019, 8,000 students in 54 countries have been part of the DAFI-program and with Denmark’s contribution of DKK 10 million, more refugee students can be awarded scholarships and thus increasing the number of refugees enrolled in university from the current 3 percent worldwide. Press release here.
The Foundation has granted USD 100 million for play-based learning solutions for pre-primary and primary school-aged children impacted by the protracted humanitarian crises in East Africa. The initiative, called PlayMatters, will help build social, emotional, cognitive, physical and creative skills, and it’s estimated to improve education outcomes for approximately 800,000 children. Press release here.
Sweden pledges to remain a significant contributor of unearmarked and flexible funding to strengthen UNHCR’s efforts globally. Sweden also commits to enhance inclusion of refugees in local and national education systems.
Denmark pledges 200 million DKK per year for five years to strengthen affected communities’ resilience to climate change in the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa. The programme aims to avoid, minimize or address the effects of climate change in fragile situations, including as a driver of fragility, conflict, displacement and irregular migration.
The Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania, pledges to assist asylum-seekers and refugees with higher education opportunities, providing free access. Press release here.
Sweden pledges to reduce the negative impacts on the climate and environment in the response to refugee situations, including through funding and support to refugees for phasing out fossil fuels with a grant of 40 million SEK.
Finland pledges to increase funding to the Finnish Immigration Services as well as the level of funding for the humanitarian assistance as stated in the Finnish government program.
Denmark, Norway and Sweden will all accept UNHCR’s Clean Energy Challenge and support the ambition that “all refugee settlements and nearby host communities will have access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030”. This is a joint pledge with other states and stakeholders, expressing political support to the Clean Energy Challenge, which may be supplemented by additional, individual pledges to the Challenge.
The Danish NGO pledges to support the ACSG mechanism in order to increase protection capacity by offering technical support on legal aid in asylum procedures and capacity building to national actors, including legal aid providers and national authorities.
The IKEA family commits with three pledges to help refugees become part of their host communities. IKEA Retail will support 2,500 refugees through job training and language skills initiatives in 300 stores in 30 different countries before 2022. Inter IKEA Group will in partnership with Jordan River Foundation ensure sustainable livelihoods for 400 women. Lastly, IKEA Foundation has pledged EUR 100 million in grants over the next five years for programmes to promote and build refugee self-reliance. Click here for press release.
Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded grants of more than DKK 200 million to three long-term projects in Jordan. The two main objectives are to strengthen competencies of young Syrian refugees through education and hereby increasing their potential to participate in the labour market, and to ensure that refugees and other vulnerable groups in Jordan can access better services for preventing diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Press release here.
Lithuania commits to contribute 50,000 EUR in unearmarked support to UNHCR as well as 50,000 EUR in humanitarian aid to Rohingya Refugees.
Iceland pledges to contribute with an unearmarked allocation to UNHCR’s Global Appeal 2020 amounting to 25 million ISK. The allocation will be disbursed at the end of December 2019. In addition, Iceland is committing to a multi-year general agreement for four years (2020-2023) of USD 500,000 in unearmarked funding each year.
Denmark pledges to resume resettlement of refugees and to prioritize investment in ongoing durable solutions programmes. Denmark announces that it intends to resettle a small group of refugees with serious needs in 2019, and this will be followed by an annual resettlement programme of up to 500 refugees yearly.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, UNHCR and Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation launch a four year program to promote access to financial and non-financial services for refugees and host communities in Uganda. Click here to read the full Press Release.
Last year Sweden raised the resettlement quota from 3,000 to 5,000 refugees yearly, and Sweden is pledging to uphold this increased resettlement quota next year as well.
The NGO Danish Refugee Council (DRC) commits to support the strengthening of protection institutions and protection capacities in order to enhance refugee protection and well-being. This will be achieved through a number of measures, including by developing legal aid staff capacity, ensuring legal aid advisory at both global, regional and national levels as well as partnering with local legal aid stakeholders.