Implementing the Global Compact on Refugees from a Faith Perspective

Last month, the inter-faith community gathered in New York at the Church Centre of the United Nations Plaza to discuss the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees. The event was organised by ACT Alliance, Catholic Relief Services, Islamic Relief Worldwide and the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

The panellists acknowledged that people move for various reasons, including seeking new economic opportunities, escaping conflict, poverty, food insecurity, gender issues and climate change amongst other factors. Speakers noted that while people have moved for many years, there is a severe lack of protection for some migrants. “Regardless of the motivation for moving, the rights of people on the move remain inadequately protected, particularly for those whose situations do not fit neatly into specific legal categories,” said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, ACT’s General Secretary.

In 2017 alone, there were 4.4 million newly displaced refugees. Currently, there are 68.5 million displaced persons around the world. The global migration crisis has exposed the shortcomings of existing response strategies and calls for enhanced collaborative efforts across the globe to tackle it.  

The United Nations summit for Refugees and Migrants that took place in September 2016 adopted the New York Declaration as a strategy to respond to the changing landscape of migration and humanitarian assistance. The 193 signatories of the Declaration recognised that the existing protection strategies did not sufficiently protect the masses of people on the move. A two-year consultative process was thus established to develop a Global Compact on Refugees and another on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, both are expected to be adopted by the United Nations in December this year.

ACT has been working through its membership, forums and partnerships in an integrated approach to humanitarian, development and advocacy work including conflict prevention, reconciliation, peacebuilding and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to safeguard the integrity of people on the move and to ensure that vulnerabilities that are associated with migration are tackled. This work will continue to contribute to positive change during the implementation of the global compacts.

Bueno de Faria spoke on the importance of developing regular pathways of migration. “Many of the tragedies that we see today involving the exploitation of people that are crammed into unsafe boats, trucks and trains, waling hundreds of kilometres through deserts, dying in the heat, and being sold off by ruthless trafficking cartels are related to the lack of options for travelling in legal and regulated ways,” he said.

ACT Alliance intends to further develop its new multi-year strategy program work with a specific focus on migration and displacement, gender equality, climate change and peacebuilding. ACT will explore the intersectionality of these components and will raise the experiences and solutions of ACT members and partners to contribute to the implementation of the global compacts for more effective response strategies to the global migration crisis.