Global Refugee Forum: Increased commitments welcome but more action needed

20 December 2023

Plan International welcomes the increased commitment towards the needs of refugee children at the second Global Refugee Forum, however, more support is needed.


Sumaiya, a Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh, on her way to a learning centre run by Plan International. Photo credit: Plan International / Zia Haque Oisharjh.

The second Global Refugee Forum (GRF), convened against the backdrop of a global surge in forced displacement and unresolved crises, underscored the pressing need for effective strategies, as outlined in the Global Compact on Refugees.

With refugee numbers doubling since 2016, the forum gathered diverse stakeholders, including representatives from 168 governments, NGOs, the private sector and refugee communities, both in person and online from 120 countries.

The co-convenors (Colombia, France, Japan, Jordan and Uganda) and co-host (Switzerland), along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), aimed to build international unity and solidarity based on humanitarian principles to address the challenges posed by mass forced displacement.

Refugee children need more support

Although we have seen significant demonstrations of support for the 4 objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees, it is clear that more is needed. One major highlight from this GRF is the recognition of the challenging moment globally, evidenced by the incapacity of the multilateral system, particularly powerful countries, to prevent conflicts and uphold human rights globally.

There has been frustration over the lack of responsibility sharing for refugees worldwide, in particular, harsh criticism against major donors for insufficient contributions towards durable solutions.

We welcome an increased focus of this Forum on commitments to contribute towards the needs of refugee children, particularly girls, and women. Over the numerous side events and pledge announcements, we have noticed that more countries are committed to ensuring displaced populations can access quality education, mental health and psychosocial support, and systems for their protection against violence, exploitation and abuse.

Young refugee activists call for change

This GRF was also marked by the strong participation of around 300 refugee leaders and activists from across the globe, representing a significant improvement from its first edition.

As our contribution, Plan International used this opportunity to amplify the voices of young people. We have supported the development of a Youth Manifesto, representing the aspirations and calls to action of youth activists across the globe for decision-makers attending the GRF.

We also supported the participation of Sedra, a Syrian refugee who spoke about her experience of being displaced, and the work of her organisation, Elegant Art and the importance of securing access of refugee children to education and protection, with clear calls to action to decision-makers.

Plan International proudly reaffirms its commitment to responding to the needs of displaced children and youth, particularly girls. We will work to ensure children, particularly girls, can be protected and that they have access to quality, inclusive, gender-responsive education, as well as campaigning for investment in youth participation.

Through these commitments, Plan International contributes to a more sustainable and equitable response to global refugee situations.

Emergencies, Activism, girls’ leadership, Migrant and displaced children