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Statement to the 10th Summit meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Berlin

Speeches and statements

Statement to the 10th Summit meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Berlin

28 June 2017


'Towards a Global Social Contract on Migration and Development'

10th Summit meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development



Ladies and Gentlemen,

As always, first of all, it is a pleasure to be in Berlin. I come here very often, to Berlin and to Germany, a city and a country that have generously welcomed many refugees and migrants.

I am delighted that we mark a decade of collective engagement through this Global Forum. The co-chairing arrangements between Germany and Morocco are an emblem of the international and cross-regional partnership cooperation needed at this vital juncture.

We, at UNHCR, have been a supporter of the GFMD - from our perspective - since its inception. Now we look forward – as we work on the Global Compact on Refugees - to also contribute to the Global Compact on Migration. Because it is an important opportunity to put in place a system for international governance, which should ensure, which must ensure, enhanced protection for the human rights of migrants but also strengthen the existing refugee protection regime.

Let me stress – as we always do - that it is crucial to maintain the distinction between migrants and refugees. Refugees are unable - to simplify - to return home because of conflict and persecution – hence their distinct status in international law. But the tens of thousands of refugees and migrants on the move today, every day as we speak, compelled to undertake dangerous journeys by sea and land, are exposed to many common perils - exploitation by smugglers and traffickers, sexual and gender-based violence, the terrible risks faced by children travelling on their own. We hope therefore that next year’s two global compacts will help reinforce the framework for delivering protection and assistance to refugees and migrants moving together in particular, in mixed flows, and foster – as we said - a more tolerant and accepting environment for all.

Regardless of status - refugee or migrant - saving lives, including through rescue at sea, and protecting them from these threats, are compelling humanitarian imperatives. We must also work to reduce those risks in the first place; regular pathways must urgently and substantively be expanded to prevent migrants and refugees from having to resort to dangerous and exploitative mechanisms. Enhancing and expanding regular routes for admission can also help avoid unnecessary strain on asylum systems.

Another strong commonality is the role that development can play in addressing both root causes and consequences of migration and forced displacement. Development strategies that take account of the economic implications of population movements, including the enormous potential that they bring, are essential.

Lessons that we are learning in the refugee context as we work on the global compact on refugees, might be useful.

There is an emerging recognition that the early engagement of development actors is essential to helping host States address the impact of large-scale movements, as articulated in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework - with a focus on refugee inclusion, through investment in jobs, education and resilience. And momentum is building in this respect - we saw this just few days ago at the Uganda Solidarity Summit for Refugees. The growing interest and engagement of the World Bank, of regional financial institutions and bilateral actors is also encouraging.

Investments are needed to support the growth of labour markets in refugee-hosting countries. National policy frameworks should facilitate access by refugees to education, health service and justice systems, empower local authorities and support host communities.

The Guiding Principles on the Access of Refugees and other Forcibly Displaced Persons to the Labour Market adopted by the ILO, and the work to revise the ILO's Recommendation 71, on Employment and the Transition from War to Peace, reflect the key role of employment promotion in refugee crisis response and I want to thank ILO for the excellent cooperation in this respect.

This calls for a whole of society approach, involving local communities, civil society, business and other stakeholders to harness the resilience and potential for innovation of refugees and migrants.

Strategic, dedicated - more strategic and more dedicated - development engagement must therefore form a central element of both the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and the global compact on refugees. I look forward, we all do in UNHCR, to working with all of you of this forum to pursue this aim, and create a better future for refugees, migrants and the communities and countries that receive them.

Thank you.