“Today, as we mark the United Nations World Refugee Day, we bring solidarity to the plight of the millions of refugees - women, children and families – who are fleeing from situations of conflicts, persecution, violence and human rights violations. Yet, as refugees trek dangerous journeys in search of protection, many of them end up in poverty, forced labour, exclusion, and experience violence and racist attacks. Of particular concern is the situation of refugee children. Due to the lack of social protection, access to quality public services and decent work for adult members, refugee children are deprived of their basic human rights, such as health, nutrition, decent shelter, safety, social care and education,” says Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary.
There are currently 65.3 million people displaced globally, which is the highest displacement on record. Of these, 21.3 million are refugees, over half are children below 18 years of age, and almost half are women and girls. The 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants mandates the United Nations to forge a Global Compact on Refugees, along with a Global Compact on Migrants by 2018.
“While we recognize the work of various governments and actors in society caring for refugees, we also witness many corruption scandals in the privatized services that are stealing precious resources for refugee assistance. This is one more reason why we must not neglect public services as vital in the protection of refugees and in the promotion of their human rights,” says Pavanelli.
“Public service workers, along with local authorities, are at the frontlines in receiving refugees and asylum seekers, providing emergency response, shelter, food, health care, education and other basic needs, including in job placement and integration. Ensuring decent work, building capacity of frontline workers and funding of quality public services will help promote social inclusion, reduce inequalities and fight racism and xenophobia. This should be acknowledged and strengthened in the Global Compacts,” stresses Pavanelli.
PSI runs a Campaign on the Human Right to Health aimed at building a global movement to influence policies towards attaining Universal Public Health Coverage (UPHC). In 2016, PSI was part of the UN High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, which addresses health employment and access to health, including in the Global Compacts.
Click here for more information on PSI’s work on Migration and Refugees.