The UN and Switzerland are hosting the first Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, an event aimed at drawing pledges of financial, technical and other assistance, as well as encouraging changes of policy to enable refugees' better inclusion in society.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (C) speaks at the opening ceremony of the Global Refugee Forum.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (C) speaks at the opening ceremony of the Global Refugee Forum. (FABRICE COFFRINI / POOL / AFP)

The United Nations urged governments, businesses and others on Tuesday to “reboot" the world's response to refugees as the number of people fleeing their homes rises, along with hostility to migrants.

The UN and Switzerland are hosting the first Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday, an event aimed at drawing pledges of financial, technical and other assistance, as well as encouraging changes of policy to enable refugees' better inclusion in society.

“Our world is in turmoil and 25 million refugees are looking to us for solutions” Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told the event. He noted that the number is far higher if you add in people who are displaced within their own countries.

“As new decade dawn with some 71 million people uprooted from their homes globally, inside and outside their countries, it's time to reboot our responses,” Grandi said. 

He called for a “broad alliance” of governments, business, development institutions, the aid community, sports organisations and others.

Officials and leaders in attendance noted that most of the world's biggest refugee hosts aren't among the globe's richest countries.

"While much wealthier countries than us have put quotas on refugees, we have embraced everyone without distinction of race, religion, language and ethnicity," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the event. 

"It is crystal clear the refugee issue cannot be resolved by efforts of a few countries, like Turkey, alone".

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the world must do more to shoulder the responsibility together.

“I have always been amazed by the generosity of the least developed and middle-income countries that have hosted millions of refugees with very little support from the international community,” he told the forum.

"At a time when the right to asylum is under assault when so many borders and doors are being closed to refugees when even child refugees can be divided from their families, we need to reaffirm the human rights of refugees,” Guterres added.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also addressed the Global Refugee Forum. 

He urged the international community to help stop possible displacement of Muslims in India, where a controversial citizenship law has sparked deadly protests

Source: AP