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Global strategy for countries hosting long-term refugees is “the only real way to stand in solidarity” says Chair of IDC

20 October 2023

The Committee is today publishing the Government’s response to its May report on aid to refugee host countries. Most refugees want to return home, but as of the end of 2022, 67% of refugees worldwide have been displaced for more than five years.

Ahead of the UN Global Refugee Forum later this year, the Committee’s report called for meaningful debate on how the global community supports host countries to move from the initial humanitarian response to a longer-term development approach that incorporates the needs of host communities.

Chair's comment

The Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP, said:

“The incomprehensible horror unfolding in Israel and Gaza highlights the absolute necessity that the UK Government rethink its position on the one recommendation in our report on long-term refugees that it did not fully accept: that the UK should advocate for the creation of a new global strategy to provide support for countries that host refugees, with so many countries hosting refugees for decades.

“In a disaster of this scale and horror, the additional £10 million in humanitarian aid the UK is offering for civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is pitiful, it falls far short of such support the UK provided a few years ago. Furthermore, the Foreign Secretary has said the only credible crossing out of Gaza is at Raffa: even if that crossing were to open, the idea that Egypt can take, accommodate and provide for potentially in excess of one million desperate, displaced people as they stream into the Sinai desert is simply not credible. Without a global consensus on how to provide consistent and reliable support to countries hosting displaced people, those people will have no safe refuge. The situation is simply untenable, and the world must dig deep to respond with the humanity this desperate situation deserves.

“The Global Compact on Refugees is more acutely under strain now than at any other time in its history. A new global strategy and resolve is needed to better rise to meet the escalating severity of ongoing refugee crises. Rich nations like the UK can choose to scale back their assistance when the TV cameras move on while the countries closest to crises continue to have to hunker down and provide refuge as best they can, often for decades, without the necessary infrastructure, services or international support to meet the needs of the refugees they are hosting.

“The UN Global Refugee Forum happening this year means now is the time for the UK to advocate to build a new sustainable global strategy to ensure that refugees and host communities receive the support they need. It is the only real way to stand in solidarity, as we must do, with both refugees and the countries that host them. It is the only way to support host countries to be able to move from the initial humanitarian response to a longer-term development approach that incorporates the needs of the refugees that they host. Crucially, it is the only way that the world can build some resilience for situations like the many we have seen this summer where fresh disasters and atrocities are piled onto already precarious or already crisis situations.”

In the short-term, the UK Government could now prove unequivocally its rationale for having merged the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office should leverage its:

  • diplomacy to help open safe humanitarian corridors and protected areas in accordance with the international humanitarian law;
  • development expertise to help provide and distribute humanitarian assistance to those who desperately need it;
  • expertise in its Office for Conflict, Stabilisation and Mediation in working to prevent potential atrocities escalating in the region.

Further information

Image: UNCHR