The Elders


In Challenge Lies Opportunity: How the World Must Respond to Refugees and Mass Migration

The Elders launch their new report on refugees and mass migration, calling for political will to ensure that responsibility is truly shared between countries, and that the vulnerable are protected.

"We must seize this moment to reaffirm our humanity and come together in our protection of the vulnerable."

There are more people on the move today than ever before. A quarter of a billion have left their homes for new lives abroad. Sixty-five million have been displaced by war or persecution. So far the world has appeared ill-prepared to respond to this increased mobility and ill at ease with its consequences. In the absence of safe and regular alternatives, millions of people facing danger or destitution are attempting perilous and clandestine journeys, abetted by people-smuggling networks. Lacking properly coordinated response mechanisms, countries of arrival are isolated and overstretched. Scenes of disorder stoke fears and drive up anti-migrant sentiment, leading to policies of containment and closed borders over those of compassion and cooperation.

The Elders believe the mass movement of people is one of the most significant challenges the world faces today. Yet we also see in it great opportunity. With the necessary political will, the world can ensure that responsibility is truly shared between countries, and that the vulnerable are protected, while taking full advantage of the benefits of migration.

We believe a more coherent and coordinated international response can help transform the increasingly toxic public narrative surrounding refugees and mass migration.

This paper sets out four key principles that must be at the heart of a coherent  international response:

1. Response mechanisms to large flows of people must be developed and properly coordinated, both regionally and internationally

2. Assistance to major refugee-hosting countries must be enhanced

3. Resettlement opportunities must be increased, along with additional pathways for admission

4. Human rights and refugee protection must be upheld and strengthened

PDF icon Read the full Elders' report on Refugees and Mass Migration  (PDF)  
PDF icon Auf Deutsch

Our Work | Refugees and Migration

With more people on the move today than ever before, we believe in a more coherent and coordinated international response, where responsibility is shared and the vulnerable are protected.


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The Elders are independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

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