Canadian commitments at Refugees Summit

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Prime Minister Trudeau’s new humanitarian pledge a show of leadership in a disappointing day
Syrian refugee children in a World Vision Child-Friendly Space in Jordan. Photo/World Vision
(September 20, 2016)
MISSISSAUGA, ON – At the Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to increase humanitarian assistance for 2016-2017 by at least 10% over the 2015-2016 total of $684 million. This increased support for education initiatives and humanitarian assistance for children in crisis is a signal of Canadian leadership according to World Vision, Canada’s largest international humanitarian assistance and development organization. 

At the Summit, Global leaders re-affirmed their support for existing frameworks to support child protection and their rights to education and psychosocial support, as well as improving access for refugee families to labour markets. However, despite increased political and financial commitments such as what we saw by the Government of Canada, the UN Summit proved to be a lost opportunity to do more than the status quo to help millions of children in need, according to World Vision. 

The New York declaration failed to meet civil society’s expectations for real change for vulnerable children. The agreement continues to effectively allow the imprisonment of children seeking asylum, violating their rights as children. In addition, the agreement does not address or provide solutions for internally displaced people, who just like refugees, have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and environmental factors, and who face many of the very same barriers to education, employment opportunities and protection from further abuse. 

“These new humanitarian commitments by Canada and Prime Minister Trudeau demonstrate strong leadership. Canadians can be proud of their government's efforts to improve the lives of displaced people who are among the most vulnerable, particularly women and girls. To make the biggest impact, Canada must continue to lead the way boldly, reaching further than ever before to help those who are furthest behind. While it’s encouraging to see the global community continue to support the protection of children in crisis, we clearly still have a long way to go --- and a lot more work needs to be done to prevent a lost generation of children,” said Martin Fischer, Director of Policy, World Vision Canada. 

“We had high hopes for children, but today displaced and imprisoned children are left with a business-as-usual approach that offers little hope. There are two glaring problems with what has happened. First, the New York Declaration effectively allows for the imprisonment of children seeking asylum. It’s a sorry reflection on global leaders that they have agreed to allow countries to violate children’s rights in certain circumstances. The second issue World Vision is concerned about is the lack of attention given to internally displaced people. Failure to address this will continue to leave millions of children with no voice. This is wholly unacceptable,” said Bart Witteveen, Director of Humanitarian Emergency Affairs, World Vision Canada.