Refugees and their rights

By Gabriele Koehler

Gabriele Koehler
Gabriele Koehler is a development economist affiliated with UNRISD as a Senior Research Associate. She serves on the boards of Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), the UN Association of Germany (DGVN), and is a member of the UNICEF National Committee, Germany. She is also a Distinguished Fellow of the ICSW.

The enormous challenges of flight
People have been fleeing their home village or home country throughout recent history. Individuals and communities are forced to flee because of political persecution, torture and rape, conflict and war, and because of poverty and social exclusion. These factors are increasingly intertwined with the devastating impacts of climate change.

Three figures make the urgency and the existential brutality of the situation clear: In 2015, the recorded number of internally displaced persons, asylum seekers and refugees reached 66 million, having increased steadily throughout the 1990s. This is the largest number since the end of World War II. 20 new displacements take place every minute. In 2014, at least 21,000 refugees and migrants died worldwide in connection with their displacement (all data in this article from: UNHCR 2017; UNICEF 2017; CARE International 2018, unless otherwise referenced).

Over 22 million persons are currently recognized refugees. Among these international refugees are 5.5 million Syrians, 2.5 million Afghans, 1.5 million South Sudanese and 1 million Somalians. Children make up almost half of the refugee population; in 2016, at least 75000 children were “unaccompanied” – separated from their family and fleeing on their own.

The majority of forcibly displaced persons remain in their country of origin – an estimated 40 million persons live as internally displaced people (IDPs). Others cross into a neighbouring country. An estimated 6 million Syrians live in other regions of their country; 2 million people have fled from Afghanistan to Iran over the past decades. The crises in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Mali and the Lake Chad Basin have driven nearly 1.3 million children, women and men into neighbouring countries.

Continue Reading

The Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors meets in Nairobi

from Global Newsletter - January 2018

The core team of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors met in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 17 January 2018 to discuss pressing issues on its agenda and to chart a way for future activities. Formed in June 2012 by NGOs and other organizations of civil society such as trade unions, now the Global Coalition brings together more than 100 members interested in achieving the universal provision of economic and social security through basic guarantees on income and essential social services throughout the life course. Promoting Recommendation 202 of the ILO is one of its main objectives. The Coalition operates within a worldwide network structure, but has not established a formal headquarters. The core team, which performs coordinating functions, brings together representatives of the Coalition members who are capable and willing to plan and strategize for upcoming policy and research activities of the Coalition, review all draft documentation produced by the Coalition, and perform other duties.

Continue Reading

The Annual Meeting of the ICSW Board

from Global Newsletter - December 2017

The annual meeting of the ICSW Board was convened on 22- 23 October 2017 in Madrid, Spain. The regional presidents of the ICSW are ex officio members of the Board, along with the President, the Vice-President and the Treasurer. Such annual meetings represent an opportunity for this decisionmaking body of ICSW to review existing programmes and to identify the areas of the proposed future activities. The meeting was chaired and conducted by Eva HombergHerrström, the President of ICSW.

Continue Reading

ICSW and partners convene the Conference on social protection of older persons in Latin America

from Global Newsletter - November 2017

The international conference convened in Santo Domingo on 29-30 November focused on a range of options in Latin America and the Caribbean concerning social protection policies designed for older persons. Apart from the hosts— participants from the Dominican Republic, who represented various branches of the government as well as non-governmental organizations, the speakers came from several other countries in the region -- Mexico, Colombia and Uruguay, as well as from regional organizations (PAHO). The issues on the agenda included the demographic transition, the rights of older persons, the sustainability of social security arrangements, health care policies for the aged and other matters that are important in the context of the ageing process in the region.

Continue Reading

ICSW SEAP joins the 12th ASEAN GO-NGO Forum on Social Welfare and Development

from Global Newsletter - October 2017

Members and officers of the ICSW SEAP participated in the 12th ASEAN GO-NGO Forum on Social Welfare and Development, held last 17 October 2017 at Yangon, Myanmar. The theme of the forum was “Strengthening Social Protection to Address Challenges of Ageing Societies”. The forum is held annually and seeks to increase and strengthen cooperation between ASEAN region governments and civil-society organizations in establishing joint projects. Attended by 80 delegates from governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from ASEAN member countries, the event was opened by Union Minister of Myanmar Dr. Win Myat Aye, who delivered the Welcome Address. In his speech, the Union Minister underscored the importance of social protection schemes and encouraged inclusive discussion on social protection issues in the context of the priority theme of the Forum. He also invited the participants from the ASEAN member countries to share best practices and lessons learned regarding the implementation of existing commitments.

Continue Reading