Foreword by the UNHCR Director for Regional Bureau for Southern Africa, Valentin Tapsoba
Globally, there has been a realization that sharing responsibility has to be the foundation of the modern system for protecting refugees and eradicating statelessness. While humanitarian aid remains vital, we need to address the social and economic life of larger communities while we continue to uphold protection and the search for solutions for refugees and stateless persons.
In the last few years there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of people displaced by conflict and unpredictable natural disasters. The global economy is threatened by new risks, and human rights globally remain fragile. In this context, the institution of asylum and the obligations enshrined in the international framework for the protection of refugees and stateless persons take on greater significance than ever. Comprehensive and durable solutions need the will of states and non-state actors to do things differently.
During the Global Refugee Forum which took place on 17 and 18 December in Geneva, Switzerland, governments, civil society, local governments and private sector from the southern Africa region expressed an unprecedented commitment to address these challenges with 78 pledges on refugee and displacement responses. Pledges ranged from supporting integration of refugees and former refugees, ensuring registration and access to Identity Cards, providing agricultural land and work permits, enrolling refugees into higher education and strengthening asylum procedures and legal frameworks. States from the Southern Africa region also made 68 pledges during the global High-Level Segment on Statelessness which took place in October 2019 to mark the mid-point of the #IBELONG Campaign to End Statelessness.
I am delighted to present this report listing the pledges made by countries, civil society, local governments and private sector in the Southern Africa region in 2019 to improve responses and solutions for refugees and to eradicate statelessness.
This publication is testimony of a new way of working and of the priorities promoted through the Global Compact for Refugees and pledges mobilized on the Global Refugee Forum. A pledge is a promise; it is an undertaking to do more and better. The momentum is there. At UNHCR, we are determined to find solutions and improve the lives of forcibly displaced persons, and we are committed to ending statelessness by 2024. This compendium of pledges will serve as a reminder of the commitments made and will hold us accountable to them now and in the future.