Events in Afghanistan and at the southern border of the U.S. have drawn new attention to the plight of displaced people, but the issue is not new. In Afghanistan, reminded Kelly Clements, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees of UNHCR, the situation has been fraught for 40 years. Clements reiterated UNHCR’s support for the Afghan people and for Pakistan and Iran as they continue to host displaced Afghans. She also noted strong political commitment to find political solutions.
David Miliband, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee, noted his organization’s dismay with the Biden Administration’s approach to Haitian migrants at the southern border. It is important to speak with clarity, he said, not with fear or favor. The U.S. has a moral and legal obligation toward migrants. Every humanitarian emergency is a political emergency, he continued. We must march toward action.
Companies also have a moral responsibility, explained Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber. Drawing on his experience as an immigrant, he noted that a large percentage of Uber drivers are immigrants themselves. We have an obligation to offer welcome and opportunity. In addition to commitments to financial aid, Uber intends to translate its driver app into Pashto and Dari to help Afghan migrants start earning a productive living. Pushed by Ishaan Tharoor, Foreign Affairs Writer for The Washington Post, about the business case, Khosrowshahi said Uber undertook these actions because they were the right thing to do. Clements agreed that doing the right thing can be good for business.
Turning back to the U.S., Miliband noted that where the U.S. goes, others will follow. President Biden’s plan to raise the refugee cap, for example, may inspire other countries to do the same. Further, he continued, we should tell the personal stories of refugees to engage more of the public.
The refugee voices at the middle of all this, they are doing for themselves what we can only support, we cannot replace.
We think it’s really important that these global problems, whether it be health security, whether it be climate security, whether it be refugees—they’re not going to get better if we walk away from those problems. You have to march toward the problems and address them.
We’re going to create a smooth path for refugees, when they’re ready, if they want, to land in and start earning and start being a productive part of society, and to start to build the kind of life that I got to build here.
Over the past decade, the global population of forcibly-displaced peoples has doubled.