December 15, 2023 (GENEVA, Switzerland): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Regional Member States and Development Partners announced new pledges as a response to refugees, returnees and host communities at the World Refugee Forum.
The World Refugee Forum which was hosted at the Parlexpo in Geneva, Switzerland from the 13 – 15 December, 2023 is the world’s largest international gathering on refugees and provides the opportunity for States and stakeholders to announce concrete pledges and contributions, highlight progress made, share good practices and take stock of the challenges and opportunities ahead.
IGAD under the IGAD Support Platform on Forced Displacement announced two regional mega pledges on climate action and durable solutions for refugees, returnees and host communities while IGAD Member States announced pledges which were adopted at national level and would be implemented in the next four years.
Speaking at a high-level event organised by the IGAD Support Platform on the sidelines of the Forum, the IGAD Executive Secretary, HE Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, said that while the number of displaced persons had increased by five million in four years, durable solutions on forced displacement and the protection of the displaced population remained a top priority for IGAD and its member states.
“Despite the magnitude of the displacement challenge, coupled with the declining funds for development and humanitarian assistance, IGAD Member States continue to maintain an open-door policy to refugees and have made several commitments to pursue durable solutions for refugees and other displaced population.”
IGAD Support Platform at Four Years
Dr. Workneh said that since the launch of the IGAD Support Platform at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum as the overall mechanism to coordinate a comprehensive regional response to forced displacement in the IGAD region, a lot had been achieved and progress registered as a result of members states pursuing a regional approach in finding durable solutions for displaced population and their host communities.
He highlighted the progress registered through implementation of regional commitments such as the Djibouti Declaration on refugee education, the Kampala Declaration on jobs, livelihoods and self-reliance of refugees, returnees and host communities and the Mombasa Declaration on refugee health.
He noted that the IGAD Support Platform had initiated innovative approaches to some of the protracted refugee situations such as the Somalia situation and the Solutions Initiative for the displacement situation in South Sudan and the Sudan. In strengthening regional approaches, Dr. Workneh highlighted how the Member states had recently adopted the IGAD Policy Framework on Refugee Protection among other achievements.
“These efforts of our Member States have been augmented by the support of stakeholders and partners in the international community including members of the core group – EU, World Bank, Germany, Sweden, USA, Switzerland, UNHCR and other relevant actors including UN-country teams, NGOs, private sector, and academia,” Dr. Workeh said, adding that he was “happy to register the interest of the by new states and partners including Australia, Canada, Japan among others.”
Pledges and Responsibility Sharing
In the spirit of solidarity and responsibility sharing, development partners under the ‘Core Group Members’ of the IGAD Support Platform announced matching pledges with commitments in development responses, durable solutions, protection and humanitarian responses.
Erica Gerretsen, the Director, Human Development, Migration Governance & Peace, at the European Union’s Directorate-General for International Partnership announced additional support of about $5 Million to Support Platforms in the Sub-Saharan Africa including the IGAD Support Platform to “continue providing comprehensive responses to forcibly displaced persons in the region.”
This was preceded by member states who made various pledges in thematic areas of education, health, social economic inclusion, enhancing the livelihood opportunities and most notably all Member states made a commitment to expanding the protection strategies and durable solutions for refugees and other forcibly displaced people in the context of climate change impacts.
The two IGAD regional mega pledges on durable solutions and climate action will complement the national pledges and are in line with the multistakeholder pledges.
On behalf of implementing partners, the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Ms. Gillian Triggs said that the IGAD Support Platform is a very important regional application of the Global Compact for Refugees and “we applaud the core group members of the Support Platform for demonstrating responsibility sharing.”
IGAD High Level Events
The Executive Secretary also led the IGAD Delegation to participate in other multistakeholder side events at the GRF where IGAD was a co-convenor or participant including side events on Entrepreneurship and Employment, Social Economic Inclusion, Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus in Contexts of Forced Displacement and National Statistics of Refugees among others.