9 December 2023

The Global Refugee Forum – time for meaningful participation of Refugees


As the Global Refugee Forum takes place between 13 - 15 December 2023 in Switzerland, it is vital that we have meaningful participation of refugees that can shape the work and the next steps following the forum. We need to see  practical next steps and delivery of pledges now more than ever.

The Global Refugee Crisis is getting worse by the hour. Lots of people forced to leave their homes searching for homes and safety. Many more displaced internally across the globe. By mid 2023, we had 110 Million forcibly displaced people worldwide, out of which 36.4 Million are refugees. There are also 62.5 million internally displaced people that need support now more than ever.

The persecution of people for their religion, race, political opinions, sexual orientation and other reasons and their forced displacement from their homes continues at an alarming rate. It is extremely heartbreaking and deeply worrying to see fellow humans denied the right to home and decent life at this day and age.

According to the UNHCR 69% of refugees live in countries neighbouring their countries of origin. These countries need to be given support to deliver better welcome.

‪As the International Community gathers in Geneva for the Global Refugee Forum, we need to see more action than words. We need leaders ready to go beyond the usual good words and soundbites. We need to see honest conversations and solutions to the crises with meaningful participation of refugees that take part in the forum. The Global Refugee Forum should not be only a talking show. We need to walk the talk and do that now more than ever. We have had many forums, assemblies, conferences, summits, workshops and seminars on how to address the worsening Global Refugee crises, yet the number of those needing protection keeps going up. Time to reimagine the way we address the challenges; and it is vital the voices of those with lived experiences are taken seriously, with open hearts and readiness to change the course. We often see promises that are unfulfilled and even forgotten. We need practical leadership from the international community, especially from the body responsible for refugees protection, UNHCR and its leaders.

Leaders in the Global North have to show leadership, willingness and practical commitment to address the worsening crises. What matters most is action and that action should be now!

There is also a need to have more legal routes for refugee resettlement around the world. The Community Sponsorship of Refugees scheme spearheaded by the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative has grown, but we need more and more countries to adapt the scheme and extend hands. The launch of Welcome Corps- Private Sponsorship of Refugees in the USA is an encouraging step and very promising. There are many promising Refugee Sponsorship Schemes in the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. There are Community Sponsorship  initiatives and pilot works in countries like Argentina and Brazil. The Refugee Sponsorship Scheme in Canada has a lot to offer.  We need to see more and more countries adapting the scheme or finding their own.

We also need to see more complementary pathways to extend welcome and avail more legal and safe routes to support those stranded in camps around the world or those taking risks and going through treacherous journeys.

We need to also see more and more businesses, philanthropies, trusts, and foundations supporting the initiative so that we can scale up and deliver better and fast.

It is time for meaningful participation of refugees; time for action not words; time for reimagining the refugee welcome movement. The time is now!

4 December 2023

Congrats to TELCO - Organising as the work of Head, Hands and Heart!


On 29th November TELCO, Citizen UK’s oldest chapter celebrated its belated 25th anniversary in the presence of 1129 community leaders that came from 89 institutions from across East London.  The anniversary showcased stories, music, reflection and above all a great sense of togetherness. What stood out for me was the leadership development since it last celebrated its anniversary. New, diversified and energetic leaders taking charge and running the assembly and celebration with grace and power.

The TELCO anniversary reflected on the origins of the Living Wage campaign;  its growth ever since and why we should keep pushing boundaries to get as many organisations as possible and encourage them to pay the Real Living Wage. It also showed the stories of the citizens for sanctuary campaign, especially that of strangers into citizens campaign and why Citizens UK is still working round the clock to see an immigration system that can deliver welcome.

In short, what the assembly showed was what Marshall Ganz puts organising to be. Ganz often says,  “through organising, you develop leaders, you build organisations, and you also solve problems.”

TELCO, through its organising has achieved all what Ganz and other great organisers and scholars teach. TELCO has led the way and it is down to the other chapters of Citizens UK across the country to follow suit and keep the good fight going.

Once again, congrats to TELCO. Please keep sharing the good and inspirational stories of the many good fights TECLO and Citizens UK have fought over the past 3 decades to inspire many organisers and community leaders.

Well done to Emmanuel Gotora and team Citizens UK 🙌🏿

The Global Refugee Forum – time for meaningful participation of Refugees

  As the Global Refugee Forum takes place between 13 - 15 December 2023 in Switzerland, it is vital that we have meaningful participation of...