Displaced people are occupying an increasingly central role on the world stage. Conflict and persecution have led to the highest number of refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum seekers ever recorded. Moreover, approximately two-thirds of refugees are trapped in protracted exile, lasting five years or longer.
Kilis, a Turkish border city of 90,000 people that has seen an influx of 130,000 Syrians over the past five years, offers a snapshot of the challenges that arise from this new normal. Most of the refugees are living outside camps, side by side with local populations. Despite a well-planned and executed humanitarian response—the city administration was nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to host refugees—few of the newcomers have been able to access education and employment opportunities because of their temporary status. They have been largely excluded from national development processes. As the resources of the Turkish and local governments have diminished, the refugees have been left dependent on humanitarian assistance. The host community has been affected, too: The presence of refugees has taxed local infrastructure and services such as waste and water management capacities and has limited the availability of some public spaces.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which was adopted in 2015 by United Nations member states, calls for “leaving no one behind” in development processes. At the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May, many state leaders, senior UN officials, heads of humanitarian and development agencies, and civil society and private sector representatives banded together to advocate that development perspectives be adopted in response to protracted humanitarian crises, in order to fulfill the 2030 Agenda’s inclusive, people-centered vision. The same commitments were echoed at the UN General Assembly in September, particularly during the High-Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants. Now, it is time to take action to turn these rhetorical commitments into reality. Read more