The WRC and regional civil society actors discuss a new global refugee regime

Laila Muharram Rey

Nearly 22.5 million people around the world are refugees according to UNHCR, over half of whom are under the age of 18. When it comes to a responsibility-sharing perspective, the figures show that more than half of the world’s refugees are hosted by 10 states in the Global South and only one percent of refugees are currently being resettled, of which 86 percent are hosted by three states only. The current refugee system is not equipped to respond to this unprecedented challenge and it requires a new comprehensive approach.

With the goal of addressing this pressing issue, the World Refugee Council (WRC), a group of leaders, innovators and influencers aimed at devising a new, predictable and cooperative refugee system, has engaged in discussions during its second meeting held in Amman from the 18th to 20th of September. In partnership with Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development - ARDD, council members participated in substantive deliberations to propose bold ideas for improving responsibility-sharing for refugees with an emphasis on innovative ways to strengthen accountability for refugees and mobilize funds to support their needs.

The aforementioned needs, be it financial, political, or administrative, can be addressed by attracting international initiatives through the combined efforts of the government and civil society institutions, according to ARDD’s executive director, Adv. Samar Muhareb.

Between the attendees, the meetings hold distinguished members of the Council like Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the World Refugee Council and H.E. Doctor Marwan Muasher, Councillor and former Jordanian Foreign Minister. Other prominent representatives of the Arab region were Maya Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center and Shaima Al-Zarooni, Humanitarian actor and member of various reputable international bodies and institutions.  The Council’s meeting in Amman focused on issues facing front-line countries like Jordan, the response of the international community to the refugee crisis in the region, and how new finance mechanisms may provide assistance.

Media representatives were invited to participate in a briefing session with the WRC on September 19th, which was held in partnership with ARDD.  During the briefing, Lloyd Axworthy praised Jordan's efforts in handling the Syrian crisis despite the lack of resources and support. Members of the Council and ARDD have also visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp, located 10 kilometers east of Mafraq and with an estimated population of 80,000 refugees. Council members met with the camp management to be briefed on the latest updates and challenges faced in the settlement. They then had the opportunity to observe the daily life of refugees and meet with organizations, community, leaders and families.

The World Refugee Council was established to advance the following key objectives: (1) Facilitate new and innovative dialogue between a wide range of actors on the deficiencies and limitations of the current global refugee regime. (2) Identify, develop, and propose approaches, mechanism and instruments to address issues of compliance with the global refugee regime, gaps in the current regime, and political, institutional and structural challenges that limit the functioning of the regime. (3) Generate the necessary political support for the implementation of the Council’s recommendations.

Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development - ARDD’s mission is to empower the people of the Arab world to create a democratic society where all have access to justice regardless of status. This envisioning is founded on the untapped potential of the Arab Renaissance and the non-negotiable imperatives of legal and human rights. Our mission starts with achieving justice accessibility, responsible governance and accountability, and universal prosperity, but aspires to attain regional peace and awaken our cultural legacy.

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