Growing forced displacement crisis impacts over 65 million people worldwide

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Growing forced displacement crisis impacts over 65 million people worldwide

©IFAD/Lana Slezic

A group of men work together to repair a fence on a farm in Jordan. In Jordan alone, more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees are being hosted, with 90 per cent of them residing in rural areas.

19 September 2016 – According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the current global crisis of forced displacement has affected an unprecedented 65 million people worldwide. More than one-third of the displaced – or 22.2 million – are in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region.

On 19 September, IFAD launches the Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS), a new financing facility, at the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting which coincides with the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants.

FARMS has been created to specifically address the rural dimensions of the current crisis resulting from the large movements of refugees and displaced people from and to rural areas.

In the run-up to the launch, Khalida Bouzar, IFAD’s Director for the Near East, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia (NEN), explains how the current migrant crisis has both a rural and agricultural dimension, and what can be done to provide better livelihood opportunities for refugees, displaced people and their host communities in rural areas.

Khalida Bouzar, IFAD’s Director for the Near East, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia, says that crises that appear to be short-term often have long-term consequences.

Q: Millions of people have been displaced in 2015, causing global refugee and forced displacement totals to skyrocket. What do you think is the rural dimension of the current crisis of migrants and refugees?

"The world is experiencing the greatest crisis of migrants and refugees since the Second World War. At the end of 2015, nearly 65 million people were displaced globally, and more than 22 million from the Near East and North Africa alone. When we talk about a strong rural dimension of the current crisis, we refer to the large movements of refugees and displaced people from and to the rural areas. At IFAD, we are noticing that large numbers of displaced people tend to originate from rural areas and are now living in rural host communities in neighbouring countries.

"In Jordan alone, more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees are being hosted, with 90 per cent of them residing in rural areas. In Lebanon, displaced people make up almost 20 per cent of the rural population. The consequences of this are serious and far-reaching. They include degradation of agricultural land and collapse in food production in the areas left behind; while, in the host communities, there is increased pressure on natural resources, food security and agricultural production systems, as well as increased competition for jobs.

"In addition, there is a disproportionate burden on the host communities of the neighbouring countries, who carry the human and financial responsibility to respond to this enormous challenge, which if left unaddressed could lead to further instability and displacements."

Q: Why is there a gap between humanitarian and sustainable development responses, and how can IFAD help bridge it?

"There is a gap between meeting the most immediate needs of refugees in real time and short term, the so-called humanitarian responses, and working towards reducing the drivers of mass displacement or building resilience of host communities as well as self-reliance of the displaced to allow them to return home when it is safe to do so – the latter ones considered longer-term, sustainable development solutions. There is a gap for a simple reason that both types of responses cannot match the scale of the crisis.

"So it is crucial to mobilize support from partners, explore complementarities without engaging in ‘mission creep’, and scale up joint efforts, not only to be better at anticipating and preventing crises from happening but also to help build the resilience of both refugees and host communities alike. Even crises that appear to be short-term often have long-term consequences.

"And addressing the roots of these crises requires long-term planning and solutions. Today IFAD is well positioned to serve as a key partner to bridge the gap between humanitarian and sustainable development responses in rural areas and is already actively engaged in many of the most affected regions. Many ongoing IFAD projects in the region have found themselves working with communities increasingly affected by these issues, where needs and vulnerabilities are increasing, but more remains to be done."

Q: To help solve some of these challenges you just mentioned, IFAD is launching a new initiative called FARMS on 19 September – what is it?

"The Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS) has been created to address the rural dimensions of the current crisis. FARMS will have an overall envelope of US$ 100 million and will initially focus on the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region, where the current crisis is most acute.

"We estimate that FARMS will reach out to a total of about 1 million people, or at least 200,000 families. FARMS will address both host areas, where displaced populations are based, and origin or sending areas, whose communities have been diminished by forced displacement or unsustainable levels of migration – desperation migration driven by poverty and lack of opportunity. By improving rural infrastructure, strengthening natural resources management, building the capacity of community-based organizations, enhancing policy and regulatory frameworks and, where legally possible, creating employment, particularly for youth – FARMS can help to reduce the vulnerability of refugees and the displaced, and the communities that host them."

Q: IFAD has a lot of experience in fragile and conflict-affected situations. Could you give an example of the impact of IFAD's work in one of these countries?

"With almost half of IFAD's ongoing operations in fragile states, IFAD has decades of experience working in active- and post-conflict situations, where refugees, IDPs and returnees were a relevant share of the main beneficiaries, supporting reconstruction, resettlement and reestablishment of livelihoods. Even under challenging security conditions in highly fragile contexts, IFAD-supported projects have proved effective.

"A good example from the field can be found in rural Syria. There, in the province of Idleb, 30 microfinance groups called sanadiq, or ‘savings boxes’ were established by the Idleb Rural Development project (IRDP) before violence broke out in that country. Today, all 30 sanadiq are still operational, and small farmers and their families continue to benefit. This is an example of an activity/benefit delivered by IFAD that has proved to be resilient and sustainable even in a period of conflict."

About the Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS)

The Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS) has been created to specifically address the rural dimensions of the current crisis resulting from the large movements of refugees and displaced people to rural areas.

FARMS will support people living in rural areas of host countries by helping them to improve sustainable agricultural productivity, which is the basis of their livelihoods. Refugee families will also receive support to develop marketable skills and increase their incomes. Economic opportunities will also be created in countries of origin so that the people who have left have income-generating opportunities to return to, and those who remain have a chance to rebuild their livelihoods.


Learn more here.

Follow the conversation online at #ruraltransformation and #UN4RefugeesMigrants.