Explained: What is the global refugee meet currently underway in Geneva?

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News:The first Global Refugee Forum(GRF),a two-day gathering of United Nations member states has began in Geneva, Switzerland.

Facts:

About Global Refugee forum:

  • The Global Refugee forum is jointly hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency and the government of Switzerland.
  • The Global Refugee Forum is guided by the Global Compact on Refugees.
  • It aims to debate and discuss the response of the world’s countries to the global refugee situation.The forum will be held every four years at the Ministerial level. 
  • The forum presents an opportunity for UN member states to announce action plans and pledges towards meeting objectives such as easing the burden on the host country, enhancing refugee self-reliance and supporting conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

Focus of first GRF:The first GRF has been organised around the following areas of focus namely:

  • burden and responsibility-sharing
  • education, 
  • jobs and livelihoods, 
  • energy and infrastructure solutions and 
  • protection capacity.

Additional information:

About Global Compact on Refugees(GCR):

  • The Global Compact on Refugees(GCR) emerged from the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in 2016.
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) was given the task of developing a new global compact on refugees.
  • The GCR is a framework for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing, recognizing that a sustainable solution to refugee situations cannot be achieved without international cooperation.

Objectives of GCR:

  • Ease the pressure on host countries;
  • Enhance refugee self-reliance;
  • Expand access to third-country solutions;
  • Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

About UNHCR:

  • The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created in 1950.It is headquartered at Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It was created during the aftermath of the Second World War to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes.
  • It’s mandate is to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people, and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.

India’s stand on Refugees:

  • India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 or the 1967 Protocol which protects refugee rights.
  • India also does not have a national refugee protection framework. However,it continues to grant asylum to a large number of refugees from neighbouring states.
  • There are some laws that govern refugees, including the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939; Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Passport Act, 1967. 

Why India has not signed the refugee convention?

  • India’s borders in South Asia are extremely porous and any conflict can result in a mass movement of people. 
  • This can result in a strain on local infrastructure and resources in countries that are poorly equipped to deal with sudden spikes in population.It can also upset the demographic balance.
  • Further,India already does its duty as it is already home to diverse groups of refugees ranging from Buddhist Chakmas from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, to Bhutanese from Nepal, Muslim Rohinygas from Myanmar among others.
  • Recently,the Parliament has also passed the Citizenship Amendment Act,2019.The Bill amends the Citizenship Act,1955 to make illegal migrants who belong to certain religious minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for citizenship.