Refugees: A Growing Global Political and Diplomatic Crisis

June 21, 2019

Washington, DC – On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, the United Nations (UN) commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day also marked a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.

Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) hosted a panel discussion on the international status of refugees in its Washington, D.C. office, with experts Lucy Santana, Dominican Lawyer, Expert on International Humanitarian Law, Refugee Law and Migration; Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian, Director of the Department of Social Inclusion at the Organization of American States (OAS), and Sibylla Brodzinsky, Communications Officer at the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) for the USA and the Caribbean. Maria Victoria Abreu, GFDD’s International Affairs and Socioeconomic Development Program Manager, introduced the panelists and moderated the discussion.

Brodzinsky was the first one to present, giving a global perspective of the refugees around the world and providing updated data and facts from the most recent UNHCR report, launched just one day earlier. “Every two seconds one person becomes a refugee”, she said, noting also that most of the refugees flee to neighboring countries. Brodzinsky also argued that the refugee crisis is not a crisis of the refugees, but a crisis of governments to solve problems, a crisis of international diplomacy.

Muñoz-Pogossian followed with a regional outlook, stressing the Venezuelan case, where more than 4 million people are now refugees; Venezuela for the first time is now the country where most refugee requests come from. She also explained how the OAS have been working with governments and organizations like UNHCR to find solutions to this problem. For her, having a national identity is an absolute must for refugees and their children to be able to access basic human rights as healthcare and education.

Finally, Santana presented the case of Dominican Republic, including its legislation and best practices. She also commented on the importance of having a development approach to solving the refugee crisis worldwide, for example, providing the ability to work and be part of the destination country’s productive system.

After the presentations, participants engaged in an interesting Q&A session with the panelists, deepening in some of the topics mentioned earlier and commenting on new aspects of the pressing global issue.

More information on the World Refugee Day:
More information about UNHCR:
More information about the OAS: