21 September 2016 - Christian Aid welcomes the financial, resettlement and support pledges made at Tuesday’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, but said they were no substitute for more stable year-on-year funding and a permanent agreement on resettling refugees to meet the significant levels of need today.
The pledges were made by 50 countries called together by President Obama to address the serious shortfall in money and resettlement programmes for refugees worldwide.
World leaders at the New York summit agreed to resettle twice as many refugees in the coming year, increase funding for humanitarian aid, provide education to a million refugee children and help one million refugees work legally.
Tom Viita, Christian Aid’s Senior Political Advisor said: “These pledges will bring hope to some of the millions of forcibly displaced people around the world who have been asking for help from the international community.
“Thanks to President Obama’s moral leadership, several countries are opening their doors to resettle thousands of vulnerable refugees in need of a permanent new home. This goes some way to redressing the injustice of poor countries bearing the burden of supporting refugees, while many rich nations shut their doors.
“These commitments allow many refugees to find a safe place to call home and begin to rebuild their lives. The combined pledges amount to resettling 360,000 people - but they still fall short of the UNHCR’s estimated 1.2 million people who need resettlement by 2017.
“We hope other countries will heed the call and build on this momentum with tangible offers to resettle many more people. Regrettably Obama’s heartfelt call for more compassionate action stands in stark contrast to the polices of some rich countries who are proposing higher walls and more punitive border controls.”
Christian Aid welcomes the funding promised at the leaders’ summit and urges donors to ensure they actually deliver the money to people who have fled their homes and desperately need help now.
“Refugee programmes are desperately underfunded so the pledges from companies and countries will make a huge difference this year,” added Mr Viita.
“The scandal is that refugee agencies, all the way from the UN to small local organisations, lurch from year to year suffering from with a chronic shortage of funds. So programmes announced with great fanfare by political leaders are left marooned, because there is little or no money to implement them.
“The UN’s plans for the new ‘Global Compact’ on refugees must agree a step change in finance for vulnerable people, not more giant cheques that bounce.”
Christian Aid welcomes the initiatives to provide much needed education for refugee children and create many more employment opportunities for refugees.
Mr Viita said: “While there is a need for increased funding, states and agencies should also be taking a broader perspective that allows refugees to integrate and find work so they can support themselves and contribute to their host countries.
“At the Syria Summit in London earlier this year, countries promised that many more refugees in the Middle East would be helped to find employment to give them some dignity and stability for their families; much of this funding is yet to be committed, but this summit gives a further boost.”
Christian Aid is urging the UK government to attend the summit and pledge to host higher numbers of refugees by:
• Resettling higher numbers of refugees, broadening the nationalities it resettles, and significantly accelerating the resettlement of the 20,000 Syrians the UK government has already agreed to accept in the UK;
• Introducing a system of humanitarian visas to the UK, including via third countries;
• Strengthening and implementing adequate measures for family reunification;
• Acting on its responsibilities to relocate refugees already in the EU.
Christian Aid is currently working in Greece and Serbia through the ACT Alliance. Our partners are providing legal protection services to unaccompanied children, and families, on the Greek mainland, and housing support to some of the most vulnerable refugees awaiting relocation to other countries in Europe. Christian Aid and our partners continue to provide support to refugees and displaced people in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, South Sudan, and many other countries throughout the world.
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.
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5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk