Many organizations and individuals approach the issue of forced displacement through a humanitarian or charity lens – but refugee leaders themselves are not asking for charity. They expect our solidarity and a seat at the table to make decisions and influence policies affecting their own lives and rights.

This year, the Global Refugee Forum will take place on December 13-15, 2023 in Geneva, for the first time in four years. World leaders are meeting to make decisions that will affect the lives of refugees at this Forum, but refugees must be key actors in these decisions, not passive beneficiaries. In partnership with R-SEAT, the Taking the Lead Network, made up of refugee-led organizations from across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, will take recommendations from 11 Refugee-Led Organisations to the Global Refugee Forum, in a campaign developed together with Data4Change and MobLab Collective.

Some of their recommendations include:

  1. Improve opportunities for refugees to access jobs and create livelihoods, including those living in refugee camps
  2. Remove barriers for refugees to access educational opportunities
  3. Commit to increasing resettlement numbers and alternative pathways for resettlement such as community sponsorship and more
  4. Improve access to proper healthcare for refugees living in camps
  5. Increase funding for refugee-led organizations working on LGBTQI+ issues, particularly in the global south
  6. Increase access to digital tools and the internet for refugees living in camps

Ahead of the Forum, refugee leaders have already influenced governments to change policies and improve access to services, integration, and resettlement for refugees. The Kenyan government, for example, has recently gazetted the refugee ID, effectively enabling refugees to get jobs in Kenya, which is a testament to the power and determination of refugee advocates. The Kenyan government has outlined a vision for refugees including equitable healthcare for refugees and host communities, inclusive social protection, eradication of statelessness, specific education and training strategy, and more. Youth Voices Community, a refugee-led organization in Kenya, expressed their belief and hope that refugee concerns, contributions, empowerment and self-reliance are a priority under the current government, but also that there are many more steps to take. Together with other refugee-led and allied organizations, their collective advocacy letter identifies four priority areas for sustained refugee inclusion. 

During the Global Refugee Forum, you can also amplify the work of refugee leaders by sharing their recommendations for action and re-tweeting their updates from #RefugeeForum and #GRF2023. We invite all refugee-led organizations who are not attending the Forum to add your recommendations to the discussion with the hashtag #RefugeeForum and to join the Taking the Lead network. To learn more about the network and follow updates throughout the Global Refugee Forum, we invite you to read the Taking the Lead Blog, which is sharing the stories and voices from a 390-member strong network of refugee leaders.

As we are witnessing the ongoing assault on, mass displacement of civilians, and ethnic cleansing across the occupied Palestinian Territories, we would like to share an excerpt from Lara Elborno, a Palestinian-American international lawyer: “As we struggle for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, an end to the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, and the dismantling of Israel’s apartheid regime, so that freedom becomes a reality for all people who live from the river to the sea, let my remarks be a reminder in the equal importance of witnessing not only our suffering in these moments, but also our deep humanity, our dignity. Because witnessing humanity is an act of resistance against colonial violence designed to strip people of their humanity; against colonial powers working overtime to convince you that this genocidal reality is inevitable. My message to you today is that it is not. Rather, freedom is inevitable. So please continue in this moment to do the most important thing that you can do by displaying unapologetic, unequivocal political solidarity with the Palestinian People, who are a symbol of hope and dignity for all oppressed people worldwide.” Watch the full speech here.

Solidarity, not charity!

From Ani and MobLab Collective

Campaigning and organizing




Looking to create change (or make a change)? Scan these open roles in campaigning, digital innovation and social change leadership. Have a job to share? Reply directly to this email with a link to the job that you’d like us to share in the next Dispatch. Note: we will only share jobs that have transparent salary ranges. This is essential for ethical recruitment. #ShowTheSalary and #BanUnpaidInternships 

Ani Hao

Ani Phoebe Hao is a freelance journalist, researcher and media consultant. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Teen Vogue, GenderIT, VICE, and Open Democracy.