June 18, 2020

Menendez Publishes SFRC Democratic Staff Report on Current Global Forced Migration Crisis

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today unveiled a new report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff on the global forced migration crisis. Published in advance of World Refugee Day on June 20, the report represents the culmination of an exhaustive SFRC investigation commissioned by Ranking Member Menendez into the latest challenges global forced migration presents to local communities, national governments, the international system, and to the vulnerable men, women and children themselves who are forced to migrate.

At a virtual briefing to publish the report findings, Senator Menendez was joined by Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Lloyd Axworthy, Chair of the World Refugee and Migration Council, and Dr. Farida Almuslem, Director of the Syrian American Medical Society's Adana Maternity & Children’s Hospital in Northern Syria.

“Global forced migration is one of the most profound and least understood crises facing the world today,” Senator Menendez said, “This report is a call to action. The United States must reassert its global and moral leadership to address this crisis given the urgent plight of millions of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence, persecution, and severe climate-related events. More than ever, we need U.S. leadership to foster and catalyze a global coalition to address this crisis.”

Entitled Global Forced Migration: The Political Crisis of Our Time, the report draws on expert interviews, in-country research and historical review, providing a examination of drivers and trends associated with today’s global forced migration crisis, as well as analysis of international and U.S. responses. The SFRC Democratic Staff lays out the urgent case for sweeping and innovative action to address the present crisis, and makes timely recommendations to Congress, the Executive Branch, the United Nations, and other relevant actors to strengthen and coordinate the global response. 

“The exodus of people across borders in search of security and the chance for a better life is challenging governments, roiling politics, testing international relief agencies, and raising difficult questions of national identity, social cohesion, fairness, safety, morality and law. The report you are releasing today makes clear that the causes of the current crisis are broad — ranging from poor governance to climate change to basic economic and demographic realities,” added Secretary Albright. “Past American presidents of both parties have shown that the challenge of forced migration can be managed without either hardening our hearts or softening our brains. The release of this report marks an important step forward in the pursuit of those outcomes, so let me once again commend you for tackling this difficult challenge.”

“As a representative of a country that shares the same piece of rock called North America, I know how important it has been over the years that we work together and collaborate on issues related to displaced persons, migration, and refugees,” added Minister Axworthy. “Your report puts a strong emphasis on the need for innovation. Nowhere is that more necessary than in the redefinition and resetting of our international and collaborative institutions,”

“After the bombardment of Aleppo, the bombardment of my hospital, I lost my house, my clinic, and my medical devices in the city. I left my memories, my photographs, everything,” added Dr. Almuslemspeaking about the refugee crisis in Syria and giving first hand testimony regarding her experience working as a doctor during the conflict. “It is not simple for anyone to lose [their] home. It is not simple. It is not that easy and not just about money... It is about a piece of you, a piece of your family.”

The report not only covers the global crisis of forced migration, but also highlights the Trump Administration’s anti-migrant agenda within and at our borders, and the calamitous erosion of United States’ leadership in addressing humanitarian crises and forced migration.

“Despite our collective efforts, President Trump has nearly destroyed our nation’s asylum system, refugee resettlement program, and other protections to people fleeing for their lives,” Menendez added. “We have to end the Trump administration’s disastrous policies towards forced migrants, including the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and the ‘Safe Third Country’ agreements.”

The full report may be found HERE.

The Principal Findings and Recommendations Pullout may be found HERE.

The Senator’s remarks as delivered may be found HERE.

The Global Forced Migration: The Political Crisis of Our Time report includes the following key findings and recommendations:

  • The scale of today’s forced migration crisis is unprecedented and, if left unaddressed, will grow in size and complexity;
  • The international community has struggled to address driving factors of forced migration and support the growing number of forced migrants worldwide;
  • The United States’ retreat from humanitarian obligations and international cooperation under the Trump Administration has dealt a grave blow to the international system; and
  • A dramatic change in course is needed to address the drivers of forced migration and adequately meet the needs of today’s forced migrants.
  • The United States Government must reinvigorate efforts to uphold international humanitarian law and resolve conflict, a primary driver of forced migration.
  • The United States must pursue protection for all forced migrants worldwide
  • The United States must reform and improve upon domestic efforts to address forced migration by restoring the U.S. refugee resettlement program and creating complementary pathways for protection.
  • The United States must promote global cooperation efforts to address the forced migration crisis.
  • The United Nations should take further action to enforce international humanitarian law and improve protections for forced migrants. 

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