UNHCR and USA – Good News for Advancing Needs of LGBTQI+ and other Refugee

Much work occurred this past year by and on behalf of LGBTQI people in forced displacement, including the UNHCR Global Roundtable, with 13 thematic workshops resulting in 39 crucial recommendations. As well as UNHCR’s monthly consultations and Panel As well as World Pride Summit for Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants held in Malmo Sweden.

As ED of African Human Rights Coalition I was honored to participate in these events and to be able to chair a thematic workshop, deliver the closing summary at the global and to deliver a keynote closing at the World Pride Summit. To see the advocacy and hard work of UNHCR and all who have participated here and behind the scenes land in this announcement by PRM, to reflect so robustly on LGBTQI refugees is so promising and will serve to create an enormous amount of hope and empowerment for the future. One key reflection is all our work to emphasize the need for new paths, and supporting the critical work of small, frontline civil society actors who contribute to the protection of forcibly displaced LGBTQI+ persons. By definition this reflection includes organizations such as AHRC.

Here is PRM’s announcement at U.S. Government Participation at Virtual UNHCR High-Level Officials Meeting (HLOM)

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Senior Bureau Official (SBO) Nancy Izzo Jackson represented the United States as Head of Delegation at the virtual UNHCR High-Level Officials Meeting (HLOM) on December 14-15 chaired by UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi. The thirteen-person U.S. delegation had the honor of including a former refugee from Sierra Leone who is now a U.S. citizen, along with representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The HLOM provided an opportunity for senior government officials and other stakeholders to evaluate and discuss progress and maintain momentum towards achieving the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). Participants identified achievements, challenges, and new areas for further engagement to increase responsibility-sharing, support self-reliance, and expand access to solutions for refugees, including, but not limited to, complementary pathways to resettle refugees, new innovative partnerships, and meaningful refugee participation and inclusion in responses.

The United States is the world’s largest humanitarian donor and the largest single humanitarian donor to UNHCR. The United States announced ten new pledges at the HLOM to enhance protection and durable solutions for refugees and other vulnerable populations around the world, including stateless persons residing in the United States. Other donors were encouraged to increase their support to UNHCR and accelerate momentum towards achieving the objectives of the GCR in advance of the next Global Refugee Forum in 2023. On December 7, the United States made its largest initial contribution of $200 million in response to UNHCR’s 2022 Global Appeal.

U.S. Pledges announced at the HLOM include: SUMMARY:

  • Pledge to enhance LGBTQI+ refugee protection capacity at UNHCR through support for staff training and capacity building as well as support to local NGOs to better protect displaced LGBTQI+ persons;

  • Pledge to increase resettlement to the United States and complementary pathways;

  • Pledge to establish new referral and sponsorship pathways for LGBTQI+ and other vulnerable refugee groups to come to the United States;

  • Pledge to establish new public-private partnerships to support the resettlement of Afghans in the United States;

  • Pledge to adopt a definition of statelessness for U.S. immigration purposes and to build a process for making statelessness determinations for such purposes, to the extent consistent with U.S. law, and examine ways to facilitate work and travel for the stateless;

  • Matching Pledge for the United States to join the Global Refugee Led Network, International Organizations, governments, NGOs, and the private sector to ensure meaningful refugee participation in the implementation of humanitarian aid programming in line with existing Grand Bargain commitments related to participation;

  • Matching Pledge to join the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative (RSRI) in its commitment to promoting opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant and achieve a better quality of life;

  • Matching Pledge to continue working with Congress to be a strong supporter of financing mechanisms at multilateral development banks in support of refugees and host communities, namely the World Bank IDA Window for Host Communities and Refugees (WHR) and the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF);

  • Matching Pledge committing the United States to support at least 10 existing pledges related to refugee inclusion and self-reliance over the next two years; and

  • Matching Pledge for the United States’ intent to becoming the next Chair of the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework Platform (MIRPS).

DETAIL:

New Pledges from the United States Announced at HLOM:

  • Enhance LGBTQI+ protection capacity at UNHCR: The United States is strongly committed to protecting and enhancing protections for vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees worldwide and pledged to partner with UNHCR to support enhancing UNHCR’s training capacity for staff and partners on the specific protection needs of forcibly displaced LGBTQI+ people and to supporting the critical work of small, frontline civil society actors who contribute to the protection of forcibly displaced LGBTQI+ persons.

  • Increase resettlement and complementary pathways: The United States is committed to welcoming up to 125,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2022 and in this regard commits to launching a private sponsorship pilot program in 2022 that will create new opportunities for private individuals and organizations in local U.S. communities to play an important role in supporting the welcome and integration of refugees resettling in the United States.

  • Establish new referral and sponsorship pathways for LGBTQI+ and other vulnerable refugee groups: The United States is committed to establishing additional referral and sponsorship pathways for LGBTQI+ and other vulnerable refugee groups to be resettled in the U.S., including through greater use of NGO referrals and inclusion in the private sponsorship pilot program. The pilot program will enable groups of individuals to identify and sponsor LGBTQI+ refugees and provide an immediate community of welcome and support system for these newcomers.

  • Establish new Public-Private partnerships to support the resettlement of Afghans in the United States The United States has and will continue to broaden its engagement with NGO actors and the private sector to encourage a whole-of-society approach to supporting the resettlement of Afghans relocated to the United States as part of Operation Allies Welcome, and to mobilize the engagement of community actors to support ongoing efforts to resettle new Afghan arrivals at historic scale and speed. The United States is committed to deepening collaboration with non-governmental organizations and the private sector to apply best practices to refugee resettlement more broadly.

  • Enhance protection for stateless persons in the United States: The United States is committed to adopting a definition of statelessness for U.S. immigration purposes and to building a process for making statelessness determinations, to the extent consistent with U.S. law. In coordination with the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will work to identify and catalogue barriers to legally available immigration relief and benefits faced by stateless persons and will explore possible avenues for DHS to reduce or eliminate such barriers. DHS also commits to establishing a process to increase data available on stateless persons in the United States and will examine the means through which DHS could facilitate work and travel for stateless persons.

  • Support for meaningful refugee participation matching pledge: The United States has long been a leader in advancing accountability to crisis-affected persons and communities and is committed to continuing to build on this work. The United States pledged to join the Global Refugee Led Network, international organizations, governments, NGOs, and the private sector to ensure meaningful refugee participation in the implementation of humanitarian assistance and support efforts to include refugees and host communities in relevant international fora. In this vein, the United States is proud to have included its first refugee advisor to the HLOM delegation this year and commits to continued participation by refugees in its multilateral engagement.

  • Support for refugee self-reliance initiative matching pledge: The United States pledged to join the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative (RSRI) in its commitment to promoting opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant and achieve a better quality of life. S. support will help this broad coalition of multilateral, non-governmental, private sector, government, and civil society organizations in reaching 250,000 refugees with self-reliance programming in at least five countries.

  • Continue working with Congress to support multilateral development bank financing for refugees and host communities matching pledge: The United States has been a strong supporter of financing mechanisms at the World Bank Group in support of refugees and host communities, namely the IDA Window for Host Communities and Refugees and the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF), for which the United States has provided more than $85 million in financing since the facility’s creation. The United States pledged to continue working with Congress to support these important facilities to ease pressure on host communities and enhance refugee self-reliance.

  • Support ten existing pledges to support refugee inclusion and self-reliance: Over the next two years, the United States pledges to support at least 10 existing pledges that States, or organizations, have made since 2019 aimed at strengthening the inclusion of refugees by host communities and helping refugees become self-sufficient.

  • Intention to chair the MIRPS Regional Support Platform: The United States is committed to addressing forced displacement in Mexico and Central America. In line with this commitment, the United States pledges its intent to seek approval to take over as the next chair of the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS) in 2022 as a regional contribution to the GCR to strengthen regional cooperation and shared responsibility.

Since FY 2017, the United States has contributed nearly $8.6 billion in humanitarian assistance to UNHCR and nearly $1.9 billion in FY 2021 alone. This funding supports UNHCR operations to provide emergency shelter, essential healthcare, water, sanitation, and hygiene services, education, and protection efforts such as legal aid, documentation, family reunification and gender-based violence response, to vulnerable refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, and other population s of concern around the world.

 

Melanie Nathan
nathan@AfricanHRC.org
nathan@privatecourts.com
@MelanieNathan1


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