Speakers at the launch of “Project for Prosperity and Development”, a project by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the global forced migration crisis, were divided over whether the escalating refugee problem in the world would get worse or better in the near future, but were unanimous on one thing: a new approach was needed.
Refugees, they argued, should not only be seen as people with the right to stay in another country, but also as people with the right to work, to own businesses and to be educated. They should be empowered along with their host communities.
While more funding was needed from international donors and host countries, a multiplicity of ideas and actors was equally important, they said.
About 65.6 million people from around the world have left their homes to escape conflict, famine, disaster, persecution, food insecurity, and unstable governance, the worst number of displaced persons in human history.
The paths of these people could lead them a few miles from their origin, across borders into transit countries, or into protracted displacement in destination countries in Europe or elsewhere.
One report by the Center for Global Development released in April 2017, found that conflict and crises have pushed some 21 million people to seek refuge outside their home countries, including five million who have fled Syria since the civil war began in 2011.
It is to address this expanding crisis that the new project, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, was launched on Tuesday in Washington D.C.
Over the next one year, CSIS said, it “will research the journey of these millions of people and what it means for the developing world landscape, and how the U.S., its allies, the public and private sectors, NGOs, academics, government, and security can play a vital role in confronting global displacement and migration”.
Cindy Huang, Senior Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development; Paula Reed Lynch, Director, Office of Policy and Resources Planning, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State; Jana Mason, Senior Advisor, U.S. Government and External Relations at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; John Kluge, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Alight Fund; Gideon Maltz, Executive Director, the Tent Foundation, who spoke at the launch, agreed that the challenges facing refugees around the world were many, but the solutions lie in bringing together a multiplicity of actors and fresh ideas.
The new project, launched on Tuesday, could prove another little step in that right direction.