Ahead of officials meeting on 14-15 December to take stock of progress towards the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns of dire gaps in international support for refugees and the communities that host them.

A recent report from the IRC, in collaboration with Danish Refugee Council and Norwegian Refugee Council, shows that in the three years since the United Nations General Assembly agreed the Compact:

Not enough progress has been made on responsibility sharing. The Compact calls for more equitable sharing of responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees, yet our research finds that two out of the three host countries reviewed (Bangladesh and Colombia) did not apply the Compact’s approach to managing refugee situations to their own context. UNHCR's own indicator report confirms that nine out of 10 refugees still are hosted in countries with developing economies, and high income countries continue to be among the lowest percentage of countries to host refugees. This raises concerns about the political will of the broader international community for improving global responsibility sharing towards refugees and their host communities. 

Funding is still sorely lacking to deliver on the ambitions of the Compact. Refugee response plans in Bangladesh, Colombia and Uganda, for example, remain chronically underfunded at between only 34 and 44 percent funded. It remains unclear whether the Global Compact has supported more predictable funding for refugees and their hosts.

Resettlement figures are eroding. Existing resettlement efforts globally were already woefully insufficient to address great protection needs and as a demonstration of solidarity with countries hosting the majority of refugees. With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting movement, resettlement levels globally have reached their lowest point in nearly two decades. For example, last year, EU resettlement represented only 0.6% of global resettlement needs and, as of October 2021, only around 65% of the resettlement places pledged by EU states for 2020-21 have been met.

In addition, the IRC remains concerned that forcibly displaced women and girls are being left behind in the global effort towards the ambitions of the Compact. The IRC and the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security today published a briefing highlighting the disadvantages they face in terms of their justice, inclusion and safety and calling for targeted support. It shows that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, displaced women generally faced much higher risks than host community women of violence at home, were consistently less likely to be financially included, and often experienced less freedom of movement. Households headed by displaced women were also more likely to be poor than those headed by displaced men. The pandemic has only compounded these disadvantages, but despite the growing needs of displaced women, UNHCR’s own progress report on the Compact provides very limited gender-disaggregated data and none on economic inclusion indicators.

Farida Bena, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the IRC, said:

“Time is running out to get the Global Compact for Refugees back on track, and the pandemic has only made the need for progress more urgent -- especially for women and girls.

“The IRC is calling on the international community to rapidly reprioritise and recommit to global responsibility sharing, increase resettlement levels and the number of resettlement countries. More and better funding from a variety of actors, including multilateral development banks beyond the World Bank, is needed to meet the ambitions of the Compact.

“Across all of these efforts, the international community must prioritise commitments to empower and protect displaced women and girls. That means implementing commitments on self-reliance, financial inclusion and protection from violence, and explicitly monitoring progress for women when collecting data on progress toward the Compact’s objectives.

“To begin to address the growing protection gap, and uphold the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees, the EU must commit to resettle at least 36,000 refugees in 2022 from across regions in need, in addition to a targeted response to the humanitarian emergency in Afghanistan that must involve expanding pathways to safety from the region.”