Germany is a co-convenor of the Forum and is committed to improving refugees’ access to higher education in particular.
The first Global Refugee Forum is taking place in Geneva on 17 and 18 December 2019. Over 400 delegations from the UN Member states, international civil society, academia and the private sector want to commit at the Forum to shared responsibility in refugee issues. Germany is a co-convenor of the Forum and is represented in Geneva by Heiko Maas.
The objective of the Global Refugee Forum is closer international cooperation and tangible improvements for refugees and communities, some of which have hosted them for decades. The Global Refugee Forum is intended to drive forward the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees, which was adopted by the international community one year ago.
More equitable sharing of responsibility and burdens
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), almost 26 million people are currently refugees outside their countries of origin. Germany is now the fifth-largest host country for refugees and the second-biggest donor to the UNHCR. However, 84 percent of all refugees have found refuge in structurally weak and low-income countries, which are in urgent need of assistance in overcoming this challenge. With this in mind, Foreign Minister Maas said the following prior to his flight to Geneva:
The Global Compact on Refugees is important because it creates a framework for more equitable international responsibility and burden-sharing in the refugee context. Now, one year after the adoption of the Global Compact, it is important that as many states as possible demonstrate solidarity and assume responsibility.
Germany supports academic education for refugees
Alongside sharing responsibility in a spirit of solidarity, Germany is committed to improved educational opportunities for refugees in particular. For instance, the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative, which gives refugees access to higher education, is to be expanded.
Only three percent of all refugees currently have the opportunity to attend university at all. This not only represents a serious restriction to individual development opportunities, but also wastes potential for host countries and, in the event of a possible return at a later stage, also for the countries of origin.