A G20 Interfaith Forum Policy Brief
Draft, September 25, 2020
Challenges and Call to Action
The Saudi G20 Presidency has identified refugees, migrants, and trafficking in its goal to “empower people by unleashing opportunities for all, including in particular empowering women and youth.” The G20 Summit offers a crucial venue to coordinate and advance responses for refugees and internally displaced people, who are primarily hosted in communities of low- or middle-income countries. With the COVID-19 emergency heightening burdens on both forced migrants and host governments, urgent financial pressures demand action.
The many aspects of forced migration demand solutions from global leaders, as the present situation causes great human suffering and uncertainty and places severe economic, political, and social stresses on, especially, refugee-host states. Action on refugees and forced migration issues is central to the priority objectives of respecting human dignity, ending conflict, and promoting sustainable economic and social development. The number of forced migrants worldwide is at historic highs and is growing: at the end of 2019, an estimated 79.5 million people were refugees and internally displaced persons. The global COVID-19 pandemic and associated emergency further strain both refugees and the communities that host them. Dangerous and significant spillover effects worldwide are anticipated.
Religious institutions, including faith-based operational organizations, play substantial roles in direct support to forced migrants at all stages (advocacy, conflict resolution, service provision, resettlement) and places (conflict zones, host countries). The core values of religious communities involve compelling and unifying calls to compassion and hospitality, Deeper collaboration among religious institutions and faith- inspired organizations, G20 members governments, and those present and working in refugee-hosting communities can foster the types of “tools, partnerships, and funding” needed to implement UNHCR’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and the principles of the Global Compact on Refugees. Religious actors bring to the table as a leading concern the imperative of action to protect the children in forced migration settings. Religious communities act as transnational actors able to provide services and advocacy across borders.
The G20 Interfaith Association calls on leaders of the G20 to engage with religious communities and organizations in a common effort to advance, in short order and respecting the dignity of those involved, the three-durable solutions for refugees and forced migrants: voluntary repatriation, local integration, and resettlement. Specific recommendations highlight the need for cooperation with faith communities on critical needs linked to the COVID-19 crisis. These include food security and health care, security and safety, and education as priorities. Action required establishing effective coordination mechanisms with faith communities at appropriate levels, and addressing dangerous migration routes through constructive programs.
The Religions for Peace (RfP) UNHCR Multireligious Council of Leaders launched in September 2020 offers a forum to engage and advance both critically needed norms and principles and practical, urgent action to address the crises of forced displacement.
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