SOAS University of London

SOAS brings together top experts to discuss forced displacement and refugee crisis

18 November 2016

A diverse panel of leading experts who have worked on the frontlines of the migration crisis discussed forced displacement and the refugee crisis at SOAS University of London on 7 November.

Hosted in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council Care for the Future theme (AHRC), British Red Cross and the University of Exeter, the panel debate Forced to flee: With millions on the move, the world must do better. But how? examined key questions around forced displacement and examined how lessons from the past can help find solutions to the present crisis.

SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos said: "We are expecting a level of resilience from people that we have no right to expect. The everyday reality of people fleeing is being watched with a staggering level of inaction."

ICRC Director of Operations Dominik Stillhart said: "We must never forget the individual tragedies behind everyone of the millions displaced." He also reminded participants that the majority of people who are uprooted by armed conflict and other situations of violence remain within their own or neighbouring countries.

Abdurahman Sharif, Director of the Somalia NGO Consortium also added that whilst much of the current focus is on Europe, the migrant and refugee populations are much higher in Africa.

Deputy high commissioner Kelly Clements of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) discussed the 2016 signing of The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, a milestone commitment from world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility for those forced to flee, and noted that more remains to be done to find long-term solutions.

Sorcha O'Callaghan, Head of Humanitarian Policy at the British Red Cross, discussed the UK context and reflected upon the UK's long history of welcoming refugees, even in bigger numbers than today. "What we have learnt from the past, both the positive and negative lessons, can inform our action and responses," she said.

To find out more about SOAS research on migration and displacement visit the Research pages.