Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

The EU at the Global Refugee Forum

18/12/2019 - 19:00
News stories

Between 16 and 18 December, the EU joined world leaders, refugees, civil society, host communities, international organizations and the private sector in Geneva for the first-ever Global Refugee Forum (GRF). The EU was represented with overall 80 representatives in the various fora and debates at the GRF, including new Commissioners for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, and for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, underlining the EU's strong commitment tackle the challenge of global displacement.

The EU at the First Global Refugee Forum: Cssn Lenarcic visits the EU stand #EU4Refugees


At the sidelines of the GRF, the European Union organised a spotlight session on the Syrian refugee crisis, where Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Várhelyi spoke on the panel regarding the EU’s joint response in partnership with host countries, local and international organisations. Together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan, Ayman Safadi, Commissioner Várhelyi commended the efforts of the neighbouring countries of Syria, including Jordan, Turkey & Lebanon, on their humanitarian approach to hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees.


“The conflict in Syria is a particularly tragic and complex one, and the new, geopolitical European Commission is addressing it as a priority.”




The EU has been at the forefront of the international response and has used innovative ways to be able to respond to the needs: “We have established new ways of working together. In the partnerships with civil society and implementing partners. And in the EU using its convening power to bring the international community together. The Brussels conferences of 2017, 2018 and 2019 were clear in their political intent,” he said.




Read Commissioner Várhelyi’s full statement here.



On Wednesday, Commissioner Lenarčič addressed the High Level Dialogue on Education, underscoring the EU’s priority to provide education in emergency situations: “Children need education, especially in emergency situations. It’s their immediate need. They cannot wait until development programs kick in. if we fail to provide education, we risk to lose a whole generation!” 






The EU is one of the top donors and policy shapers in the field of education in emergency situations globally: The share of the EU’s humanitarian aid budget allocated to education in emergencies has increased from 1% in 2015 to 10% in 2019.




Commissioner Urpilainen wrapped up the 3-day gathering with an intervention at the closing session on Wednesday evening: Recalling her personal encounters at the Kalobeyei refugee settlement in Kenya, where her very first mission as the new Commissioner for International Partnerships took her, she said: ”I didn’t meet superhuman heroes. I met people like you and me, who try to create new lives for themselves, for their children. I witnessed the human ability to rise, to persevere and to come together.”




She underlined the importance of international partnerships in responding to global displacement and shared responsibility for the most vulnerable. “We are here together facing the challenges & demonstrating solidarity. Everyone has to share responsibility in a global challenge.”




Read Commissioner Urpilainen’s full statement here



The Commissioners took the opportunity for bilateral meetings at the margin of the GRF and to visit the EU booth, which showcased a virtual reality presentation of different refugee camps around the world.




The Forum took stock of the work made so far to deliver on the main aspects of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), which was affirmed in New York almost exactly one year ago to the day. The GRF was also an opportunity to share good practices on key priority areas such as: responsibility-sharing, the need for more sustained solutions, better ways to support host countries, enhance refugee self-resilience, support conditions in countries of origin for returns in safety and dignity. The EU officially co-sponsored of four priority areas on the agenda: burden and responsibility sharing; education; jobs and livelihoods; and solutions.



Read more:

The EU at the Global Refugee Forum 

International community gathers in Geneva to support refugees and deliver more on Global Compact



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