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UNHCR welcomes Leaders support for refugees

UN Refugee Chief Filippo Grandi welcomes significant new backing from the UN Leaders’ Summit on Refugees to improve protection and solutions for the forcibly displaced.

United States President Barack Obama addresses the High-level Leaders’ Summit on Refugees which he hosted on the margins of the UN General Assembly general debate. © UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

United States President Barack Obama addresses the High-level Leaders’ Summit on Refugees which he hosted on the margins of the UN General Assembly general debate. © UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

NEW YORK – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has welcomed the significant new support committed today by governments to improve protection and solutions for refugees at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, convened by US President Barack Obama in New York.

The 50 states and organizations participating in the summit have increased their contributions to humanitarian appeals in 2016 by US$4.5 billion, including US$1 billion from the US, according to President Obama’s opening address.

Obama also said the major commitments of Turkey, Thailand, Chad and Jordan will collectively help more than a million children who are refugees get an education and one million refugees to get training, new skills or find a job.

In addition, the President noted the countries taking part in the summit were roughly doubling the number of refugees they collectively admit to more than 360,000.

The Leaders’ Summit came a day after the governments of 193 countries adopted the New York Declaration at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. It commits to enhance protection for millions of people who have been forcibly displaced and are otherwise on the move around the world.

“UNHCR is hugely encouraged to see the strong political commitments in the New York Declaration made immediately tangible through the new, concrete actions announced today.”

“UNHCR is hugely encouraged to see the strong political commitments in the New York Declaration made immediately tangible through the new, concrete actions announced by governments today,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“International solidarity for refugees means governments stepping up and providing fast, predictable funding, investing in host countries and communities, and giving refugees the right to live, work or study in their countries – and through that, a fighting chance to rebuild their lives.”

The Leaders’ Summit – co-hosted by the US, the UN Secretary General, Ethiopia, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Sweden and Jordan –  sought concrete pledges in three areas: improved access to education and job opportunities for refugees, resettlement and other forms of admission, and humanitarian finance.

Forty-eight states from around the globe took part, including nine from Africa, six from the Americas, seven from Asia, 20 from Europe and six from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The European Union and World Bank also participated.

UNHCR also welcomed the announcement of the World Bank’s Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) and of the generous US$50 million contribution of the United States to make it operational. The new facility will make it possible for donors to respond quickly and substantially to future refugee crises that might occur in middle income countries.

“UNHCR will study the commitments made today over the coming days. We look forward to working with states to put them into action,” said Grandi.

A press release on this topic is available here.