On World Refugee Day (June 20), mayors from more than 50 cities around the world, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Los Angeles, Manchester, Mexico City, New York, São Paulo and Sydney, are calling for more local authorities and municipalities to join them in welcoming and including refugees in their communities.
The Cities #WithRefugees initiative highlights the increasingly important role cities have taken on in accommodating refugees. Nearly two out of three refugees settle in urban areas whose residents are often the first to help refugees when they flee danger or later when they are resettled to new countries.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, praised the communities and individuals that are a positive force for inclusion.
“The Cities #WithRefugees initiative sends an important message of solidarity with refugees, at a moment when conflict and persecution is uprooting millions of people worldwide. With the majority of refugees now living in towns and cities, mayors and community leaders play a critical role in mobilising support, opening up access to services and opportunities, and helping refugees become members of new communities. As we work towards a new Global Compact on refugees, we want to ensure that when local people and organisations come together to welcome refugees, they receive the recognition and support they need.”
The Cities #WithRefugees initiative follows the release yesterday (June 19) of new figures by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency that show a continuation of a five-year upward trend in the number of people displaced by conflict or persecution worldwide. At the global level – UN member states have been drafting a Global Compact on Refugees to transform the way the international community responds to refugee crises and create a more predictable and equitable support for the countries and communities which host them. Cities will play a vital role in making it work.
The Cities #WithRefugees initiative is part of UNHCR’s ongoing #WithRefugees campaign, launched in 2016 to support the development of the global compact on refugees. The Campaign seeks to channel global public support for families forced to flee their homes and calls for all refugees to be able to live in safety, have access to education and be able to support their families. To date the campaign has almost 2 million signatures to its core petition and approaching 19 million actions in support of refugees.