There are unprecedented numbers of people on the move, through forced displacement, voluntary migration and flight from conflict, fragile and failed states. Large flows of refugees and migrants have highlighted gaping deficiencies in current response mechanisms, with inadequate responsibility-sharing and the rights of those on the move often ignored.
We will help maintain the spotlight on the plight of refugees and migrants; challenging negative narratives, supporting multilateral mechanisms and encouraging global responsibility-sharing. We will advocate holistic rights-based approaches and the importance of international law and the 1951 Refugee Convention for refugee protection. We will champion the need for compassion, tolerance and solidarity in response to vulnerable people on the move.
Supporting efforts to improve regional and international responses
We support international efforts and frameworks to improve and systematise responses to the mass movement of people, such as the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. We urge the countries of the world to implement their commitments to ensure that responsibility is truly shared.
Enhancing assistance to major refugee-hosting countries
Most people fleeing conflict and persecution seek refuge in the closest possible safe haven and await the first opportunity to return to their homes and rebuild their lives. But the return of refugees to their home country is rarely rapid.
If refugees are to remain for a prolonged period in host countries, they must be provided a decent existence with realistic prospects of adequate food, water, shelter and healthcare, temporary employment and education for their children.
With the right policies, refugeees can help themselves and contribute to host societies.
Increasing resettlement opportunities and additional pathways for admission
Governments cannot simply pay their way out of real responsibility-sharing. Resettlement is a tool for protection, a durable solution for refugees.
In the absence of pathways to admission, people seeking to flee conflict or hardship often have no option but to undertake dangerous, irregular journeys, handing their savings to criminal networks in order to cross borders. The world cannot decry people smugglers yet offer no viable alternative.
We urge the international community, particularly those who are better resourced, to show compassion and solidarity by taking in more refugees at this difficult time.
Strengthening and upholding human rights and refugee protection
All refugees and migrants have human rights and should have their dignity upheld while on the move and in how they are received in other countries.
The Elders believe that all countries have a responsibility to uphold the right to seek asylum, and ensure that their border procedures respect human rights and are sensitive to the particular issues related to gender, age, sexuality and other protected characteristics.
All those arriving, regardless of status, are entitled to due process of law in the determination of their legal status, entry and right to remain. In no cases are collective expulsions permissible.
We believe that the system is failing not so much because the rules are wrong but rather because states are applying them inadequately. The protection of refugees and migrants is a common good, for the safety and dignity of all humanity.
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