The UNRWA chief added that “there is absolutely no alternative to a genuine political process to end the cycle of violence”, which would see both sides enjoying statehood, peace, and stability. That potential has evolved into a powerful force, he said, thanks to the collaborative efforts of many, including states, NGOs, local and refugee-led organizations, sports bodies, financial institutions, faith leaders, academia, private companies, and engaged citizens.
Shattered dreams, disrupted lives
Concluding his address, the High Commissioner called for the forum to be “a moment of unity, in which all of us join forces to ensure that those who flee because their life, freedom and security are threatened can find protection; and that everything is done to resolve their exile as soon as possible”.
The opening day will conclude with a ceremony celebrating the winners of the Nansen Refugee Award 2023. Contemplating what has been achieved since the first ever global forum on the issue in 2019, the High Commissioner said back then “we had the makings of a success. Today, those makings have turned into an engine which can bring us much further”.
Makings of success
With its extensive programme spanning three days, the forum will focus on a wide range of issues, including the need for gender equality, the scourge of gender-based violence, health, education, rights of refugee children, employment, housing and much more. It brings together Member States, civil society, financial institutions, private companies and more than 300 refugee advocates.He told delegates the people of Gaza were “running out of time and options, as they face bombardment, deprivation, and disease in an ever-ever-shrinking space. They are facing the darkest chapter of their history since 1948”. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi delivers his keynote remarks during the orientation session at the Global Refugee Forum 2023.
Gaza: ‘A major human catastrophe’
© UNHCR/Pierre AlbouyOther hotspots include growing insecurity in the Sahel, he said, “the dramatic population flows across the Americas, the Mediterranean and the Bay of Bengal, and many others” largely fuelled by the lack of political solutions to conflicts.He stressed the need to tackle the root causes of displacement and highlighted the humanitarian obligation to assist people uprooted by “protracted crises” in places like Myanmar, Syria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.Calling the situation in Gaza ‘a major human catastrophe’ that reflected failure in the Security Council, Mr. Grandi expressed his fear of more civilian death and suffering, and displacement that could threaten the whole region.Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, the UN agency that aids Palestinian refugees, came to the forum directly for the ailing region.
Days of intensive work
But he also warned UNHCR is 0 million short of its fundraising goal “to end the year with the minimum of needed resources”, adding that he was greatly concerned over next year’s outlook.He reiterated the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for an immediate and sustained humanitarian ceasefire, the release of hostages and a genuine resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.The world’s largest gathering dedicated to refugee issues, the Forum is co-hosted by UNHCR and Switzerland and convened by Colombia, France, Japan, Jordan and Uganda.