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Speeches & Transcripts October 3, 2018

Executive Committee of UNHCR, Statement of the World Bank

High Commissioner, Madam Co-Chair, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

First, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the Indonesian delegation and to the people of Indonesia for the loss of life and livelihoods caused by the Earthquake and Tsunami in Sulawesi.

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Executive Committee today. On behalf of the World Bank Group, I would like to congratulate Filippo Grandi and all the staff at UNHCR for your tireless efforts to serve the millions of refugees and Internally displaced persons worldwide. We would also like to commend you on the progress that has been made since the New York Declaration, and for your leadership in negotiating the new Global Compact on Refugees.

As noted in this ExCom discussion the global forced displacement crisis has increased in scale and complexity in recent years. Host countries carry the bulk of the international responsibility of caring for refugees, they need our support and they need a more advanced international system to share responsibilities.

The Global Compact on Refugees provides an important framework to strengthen the international response and shows what is possible when we come together, to better share a common responsibility to improve the lives of millions of refugees and their hosts.  It lays a pathway for us to manage each individual crisis better, grounded in a much closer partnership between humanitarian, development and other communities that makes good use of our complementary approaches. 

The importance of addressing the development dimensions of forced displacement is now well accepted and the potential role of development institutions understood. We are encouraged by the comprehensive response that the global compact envisions. The additional resources available under the Global Concessional financing facility for middle income countries and IDA 18 sub-window for refugees and host communities for low income settings will provide much needed support to expand services and opportunities not only for refugees and Internally Displaced Persons but also for host communities.

The World Bank Group now has programs in over a dozen countries, covering a broad range of thematic areas from jobs to education, health to community development and social protection to infrastructure. We are indeed responding to the global compact’s call to step up support to refugee hosting countries and are committed to its implementation.

Our partnership with UNHCR is strong and we have a solid foundation to build on. We are grateful to them for sharing their knowledge and experience and for their advice on critical protection issues. As Ms. Georgieva said on Monday, partnership is key if we are to further enhance the way humanitarian and development actors work together in support of host countries and if we are to transform the way we deal with refugee crises. I would like to acknowledge and thank the positive supporting words from various delegations on the growing collaboration between UNHCR and the WB. 

If we want to achieve the objectives of the compact we must also focus on addressing the root causes of conflict and turn our attention to prevention.  The joint UN WBG Pathways to Peace report tells us that preparing for and preventing crisis is the best investment the international community can make. For each $1 invested in prevention about $16 is saved down the road. We should therefore explore how we can be more responsive to evolving situations.

We have heard the calls to strengthen data and evidence. This will ensure that policies and programs support the right people in effective ways. We are confident that the new joint data center, supported by Denmark, will help us to improve the collection, analysis and dissemination of data on the welfare of refugees and hosts.

We must do more to support the ownership and leadership by host governments and regional organizations. We know from our development work that institutions and policies matter. We are encouraged by the progress made by some host governments in changing their policies to allow refugees to work or start businesses which will create economic opportunities for refugees and hosts alike – we should continue to push for more progressive policies.

We fully support the calls made at the General Assembly last week to expand educational opportunities for refugees, especially for girls and for including refugees in national education systems. At our Annual Meetings in Bali later this month we will announce our Human Capital Project which is an ambitious effort to accelerate more and better investments in people. We want to make sure that refugee children and young people in host communities are not left behind.   

Finally, we further commit to collaborate with governments and other partners to support the work on measuring the impact of hosting and protecting refugees and on developing indicators to assess and measure the progress we make.

There is much to do but if we work together towards the objectives of the compact we should begin to see a difference in the way the global community responds to refugee crises and protracted situations and more even sharing of the responsibility of supporting refugees and their hosts.  Why, because there is no global public good worthier than developing the full potential of people.  This is about helping people, we owe it to them to do the best we can.

Thank you.