COVID’s impact on displaced people, with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi

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By Robin Pomeroy and World Economic Forum. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

There are more forcibly displaced people than ever - 82 million - despite the pandemic making it harder to flee across borders. On World Refugee Day, Radio Davos speaks to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, and to Victor Ochen, who grew up in a conflict zone in northern Uganda and has used his experience as a displaced person to help others.

Key quotes:

Filippo Grandi:

"Most of these 80-plus million people we’re talking about, refugees, displaced people, are in poor countries…[which have] fewer resources to deal with these massive problems."

"I think the problem [of vaccine inequality] is not inequality in respect of refugees, it is inequality between countries. And I think that I am actually surprised that there is not even more outcry about what a scandal it is."

"The risk of backfiring globally is very, very high. The slogan … that we will not be safe until everybody is safe ... is actually the most true slogan of the many that have been coined around the pandemic."

"The slogan of the [United Nations] Sustainable Development Goals is: ‘No one should be left behind’. The risk of that ... is much higher now than it was a year and a half ago. And this is where we need to focus in the next few years."

"If you look at the type of money that has been mobilized to respond to COVID and you look at the aid budgets, the proportion is staggering. One is huge and one is very small, comparatively speaking. So I do hope that governments will have a better judgement than that and will not take it [from] aid budgets to compensate for the large expenditure."

Victor Ochen:

"I was born into war. I was born in the community affected by war and a society where nothing was happening except the struggle for power."

"It was the most dangerous venture, most dangerous move, to talk about peace in an environment where there is no peace, to talk against war in an environment clouded by conflict."

"War destroys one key institution: not the government, not the United Nations, not international organizations, not politics – war destroys the family. Families are split apart, families lose members, families become so helpless, separated for life. They live in that endless sense of not knowing what will happen. It's very difficult to see something good come out of a community where families are destroyed."

"Suffering in northern Uganda, suffering in Africa, is no different from suffering anywhere in the world. With COVID came a lot of understanding that we are all human, we are all powerless, we are all fragile. We shouldn't wait for suffering to knock on our doors before we act to care for those who are already suffering."

Mentioned in this episode:

COVAX - the global effort to get COVID vaccines to all.

The UK's plan to cut its overseas aid budget.

COP26 - the climate summit due to happen in November.

Lord's Resistance Army - the militia that caused Victor Ochen's family to become displaced people.

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