Statement by the Chair of the World Refugee & Migration Council
As conflict continues in the Middle East, fear is growing that it will spread to other areas in the region.
Given the mandate and mission of the World Refugee & Migration Council, our concern is for the civilian populations of both Israel and Gaza, and their protection from the continuing violence and their displacement from their homes.
This includes the dire humanitarian crisis facing 2.2 million people in Gaza, 350,000 of whom are reported to be taking temporary shelter in schools, hospitals and the street. Their plight, along with that of 200 hostages being held in Gaza, must be addressed immediately.
We therefore call upon all UN member states to enforce international humanitarian principles to provide the necessities of life to the
The international community must also support, financially and otherwise, the humanitarian groups and organizations that are working on the ground in Gaza to assist civilians, especially women and children. This includes the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which is desperately in need of funds to continue its essential work and has tragically lost 29 of its staff during the conflict.
Like all UN agencies that work with refugees — including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — UNRWA depends for its financing entirely on voluntary contributions. In its 2019 report entitled A Call to Action, the Council recommended that funding for UN refugee work should be provided by compulsory assessments levied on all UN member states. The financial crisis faced by UNRWA in this urgent situation is a perfect and distressing illustration of the importance of that much-needed change.
The international community must also begin now to prepare for an end to this conflict by addressing the needs of the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced and rendered homeless by it.
After the present conflict has ended, and in order to create conditions that will make long-term peace possible, there must be an international effort to rebuild Gaza’s infrastructure and make Gaza habitable.
The World Refugee & Migration Council, chaired by Lloyd Axworthy, offers bold strategic thinking about how the international community can comprehensively respond to refugees and others who have been forcibly displaced, including internally within their countries, on the principles of international cooperation and responsibility sharing. Read more at wrmcouncil.org
Photo: Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, on October 12, 2023 (Shutterstock/Anas-Mohammed).