Latest developments in global refugee policy: UNU-MERIT expert Melissa Siegel weighs in

On 13 to 15 December, the Global Refugee Forum 2023 – the world’s largest international gathering on refugees – took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Launched in 2019 and held once every four years, the Forum assembles world leaders to discuss international progress on the four key objectives of the UN’s Global Compact for Refugees framework, which are:

  • Ease the pressures on host countries
  • Enhance refugee self-reliance
  • Expand access to third country solutions
  • Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity

In light of these recent migration discussions and negotiations, UNU-MERIT’s Head of Migration Studies Melissa Siegel was recently asked for her expert opinions on Strait Talk, a media show that features in-depth analyses of global events. A summary of the key points from the interview follows below.

Regarding the reasons for the significant rise in the worldwide number of refugees in the last four years, Siegel shared that in addition to an increase in conflicts in recent times, only one-third of the commitments made at the previous Global Refugee Forum in 2019 have actually been met. She emphasised the importance of leaders backing up their pledges with concrete action and furthermore pointed to the severe funding challenges that many humanitarian organisations are facing (such as the UNHCR’s current shortfall of $400 million for 2023) as a major factor impeding current progress in this field.

Reflecting on the new migration treaty between the UK and Rwanda signed earlier this month, Siegel stated that deals such as this one, which externalise refugee policy, are problematic since highly developed and well-resourced countries such as the UK are shirking their international responsibility to host refugees.

In response to the EU’s pledge to welcome 61,000 refugees in 2024-2025, Prof. Siegel stressed the message that this figure is insufficient considering the current global situation, and added that more developed countries need to increase resettlement and improve their migration and refugee policies.
Watch the full interview (aired on 16 December 2023) here: