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World must take more comprehensive, subtle approach to tackling refugee crises: Davos panel

DAVOS: The global community needed to take a more comprehensive and subtle approach to understanding the challenges faced by refugees, panel members at the World Economic Forum suggested on Tuesday.

During a discussion, titled “35.3m Refugees at a Critical Junction,” at the Davos gathering in Switzerland, panelists pointed out the need to move beyond sensationalized narratives when tackling the issue.

They considered innovative solutions to the humanitarian emergencies that had disrupted communities and led to a situation in which refugees, origin, and host countries were striving for mutually beneficial outcomes.

Alaa Murabit, who oversees the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s health advocacy and communications work, said: “It is important for us to realize that it is our global responsibility (to solve this global refugee crisis).

“It is a lived reality for millions around the world, but it is only perceived as critical when it grabs the headlines of certain countries.”

Of the 108.4 million people displaced worldwide, 35.3 million were refugees fleeing persecution, conflict, climate crisis, and economic instability, according to the latest data from international organizations.

The panel also looked at ways of debunking stereotypes in tackling the negative impact on refugees and displaced populations caused by a rise of global nationalism.

Professor of forced migration and international affairs at the University of Oxford, Alexander Betts, said: “The idea that refugees come only to rich countries is not true.”

He highlighted data showing that 76 percent of refugees around the world were living in low- to mid-income countries.

Murabit claimed that misinformation was the problem and that there was often a wrong belief that refugees were uneducated, had no skills, and only took the resources of their host communities.

She noted that states and businesses needed to ensure there was enough social security support for displaced vulnerable persons.

Betts added: “From research in Europe, we found that refugees who are perceived to contribute to the economy tend to be more welcomed by host communities.”

Commissioner of the UNHCR refugee agency, Filippo Grandi, said society, not just governments and organizations, had a collective responsibility in tackling the global refugee crisis.

And he highlighted the pivotal role the private sector could play as a partner in providing sustainable care to refugees.

Board chairperson of Limak Holdings, Ebru Ozdemir, pointed out the critical situation that had developed in Turkiye over the past decade, particularly due to the Syrian refugee crisis.

She said there was an urgent need to address issues at the source countries to prevent displacement, adding that resolving conflicts and working toward peace was paramount in ensuring the well-being of vulnerable populations.

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