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Modernizing The U.S. Refugee Response Overseas

The U.S. government should leverage its diplomatic leadership to reinvigorate and modernize the international response to protracted refugee crises, and reclaim its position as a leader in refugee response.

Since the 2016 Leaders’ Summit, 14.5 million more people have been displaced, including over 5 million Venezuelans in the U.S.’ backyard. But current responses to refugee crises are not fit for purpose and not responsive to the trends of displacement. A future U.S. Administration should lead on a modernized approach that meets needs of people caught in protracted displacement and prioritizes inclusion of refugees into local hosting communities.

The International Rescue Committee recommends that a future Administration make three core changes in the U.S. approach to refugee crises abroad:

  1. Reinvigorate and institutionalize the compact approach. Compacts can bring together global and national actors to agree on a set of financial and policy commitments with a long-term time horizon that matches the realities of displacement. In 2021, the Administration should bring together relevant actors to agree to a compact in response to the displacement crisis closest to its own border: the Venezuelan refugee crisis. This will lay the foundation for a fundamental shift in the U.S. approach to protracted displacement.
  2. Make socioeconomic inclusion of refugees central to the U.S. government’s approach in protracted displacement. The reality is that very few refugees are able to return or be resettled each year; leaving integration as the most promising durable solution. The U.S. should use its diplomatic leadership to support policy reforms that enable refugees to be integrated and realize their rights.
  3. Implement more and better quality funding for protracted displacement situations, including by increasing multiyear, flexible financing for humanitarian response and funding and shaping the multilateral development banks’ priorities on fragility, conflict and displacement.

Available documents & links