- December 27, 2019

The International Disability Alliance attended the first-ever Global Refugees Forum (GRF) held in Geneva from 17 to 18 December 2019. The IDA delegation was comprised of the board member Mr. Juan Angel de Gouveia and Mr. Gabriel Soto, both from RIADIS and was supported by the IDA Secretariat, as well as IDA’s Inclusive Humanitarian Action and DRR Advisor, Ms. Elham Youssefian.

During the two days, the delegation advocated for the rights of refugees with disabilities and for their inclusion and meaningful participation in all phases of refugee response.

The International Disability Alliance also made a pledge on protection capacity aiming to strengthen the capacity of organizations of persons with disabilities and to mainstream refugees with disabilities and to engage with humanitarian organizations. 

Preparation ahead of the Global Refugee Forum

In August and September 2019, the International Disability Alliance, together with the UNHCR and the Permanent Mission of Finland in Geneva, developed a Pledging Guidance on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. The first draft has been shared with IDA members and presented through a series of four regional webinars, where UNHCR briefly introduced the Global Compact on Refugees as well as the opportunities for contribution through pledges and good practices at the Global Refugee Forum; and Finland presented its commitment towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities as a long-standing priority of its cooperation and development policy and as a co-sponsor for protection capacity at the GRF. After the collection of inputs from IDA’s members, the Guidance was finalized and broadly shared. 

 The International Disability Alliance also engaged with the Global Refugee Forum Education Co-Sponsorship Alliance in November 2019, to provide inputs and feedback on the Global Framework for Refugee Education, a framework to guide the pledging process for the first Global Refugee Forum and subsequent initiatives to meet the 2030 education commitments of the Global Compact on Refugees. 


16 December 2019 

On Monday 16 December, the delegation attended the breakfast with the UNHCR High Commissioner, Mr. Filippo Grandi. During this event, IDA representatives were able to discuss with the High Commissioner and raised the need for meaningful participation of refugees with disabilities in all stages of the refugee’s response.

The delegation then split up to attend different sessions, mainly on education and on protection capacity. During these events, each member was able to speak from the floor and emphasize the need to take into account refugees with disabilities, to enable their meaningful participation in all the stages of the refugees' response as well as the need for a truly quality inclusive education for all refugees learners with disabilities. 

The delegation attended the following spotlight sessions: 

  • 10 am – 11.30 am Spotlight session on Education - Brighter Futures: the promise of Early Childhood Development in crisis settings. Meeting the Needs of Young Children & Caregivers Affected by Crisis & Development 
  • 10 am – 11.30 am  Spotlight Session on Protection Capacity: Promoting partnerships among diverse stakeholders in supporting national protection capacity and the provision of legal aid services to asylum seekers and refugees 
  • 10.45 am – 11.30 am Spotlight Session on Education: The power of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Skills Training for Sustainable Growth 
  • 11.30 am – 1 pm Spotlight Session on Education Reframing Education in Emergencies
  • 11.30 am – 1 pm Spotlight Session on Protection Capacity: Our Commitment to the 52%: how can we make the Global Compact on Refugees work for every child? 
  • 1.30 pm – 3 pm Spotlight Session on Burden & Responsibility Sharing: A Whole of Society Approach to Addressing Displacement in MENA
  • 3 pm – 4.30 pm Spotlight Session on Education: Securing her Future: Proven approaches to ensuring a quality secondary education for refugee girls 
  • 3 pm – 4.30 pm Spotlight Session on Protection Capacity: Engage, participate, advocate! Young people and women leading
  • 4.30 pm – 6 pm Spotlight Session on Refugee Sponsorship: Building communities through partnership



17 December 2019

The Delegation attended the Opening Plenary session of the Global Refugees Forum. After the introductory remarks and welcoming remarks by the Co-Hosts, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released his statement. The Secretary-General also stressed on the need to preserve humanitarian space and access to people in need, as well as to strengthen services, in particular for people with disabilities. This part was followed by statements from co-conveners of the Forum. 

The rest of the day was dedicated to following the Plenary Session Debate “on burden and responsibility sharing with statements from the floor.

 During the day, the IDA representatives had also the opportunity to attend the following spotlight sessions:

  • 1 pm – 2.30 pm - Spotlight Session on Burden & Responsibility Sharing: Role of development actors in addressing forced displacement: the HDP nexus for comprehensive solutions 
  • 1 pm – 3 pm Spotlight Session on Education:  Inclusion of Refugees in National Education Systems
  • 1 pm – 2.30 pm Spotlight Session on Protection Capacity: Refugee Women Do Talk About Sexual and Gender-based Violence: We Need to Respond! 

18 December 2019

 In the morning, the delegation attended two high-level dialogues; one on Protection Capacity and one on Education. In both, IDA delivered a statement.  

On the high-level dialogue on protection capacity, IDA highlighted the multiple discrimination that refugees with disabilities, especially those from the underrepresented groups - such as refugees with intellectual, psychosocial disabilities, deafblind refugees - face in access to services and legal support. During this dialogue, IDA also stressed on the need to support humanitarian organizations to build capacity and mainstream disabilities inclusion in their program and activities aiming to protect women, children. 

On the high-level dialogue on education, IDA presented the challenge of lack of education for children with disabilities in refugee settings. It was highlighted the need of implementation of different strategies, materials, and training of teachers to include children with different types of disabilities the mainstream education policies for refugees. IDA encouraged the participants to design inclusive policies regarding education. 

In the afternoon the whole delegation attended the Spotlight Session Protection Capacity Not Just an Acronym! Age Gender, Disability, and Diversity – what Cross-Cutting themes mean in practice? “ co-organized by International Disability Alliance that supported the participation of Ms. Nujeen Mustafa as a panelist. For more information on this event, please visit here. 

Finally,  IDA attended the closing plenary session, where Juan Angel de Gouveida delivered an oral statement in Sign Language on behalf of IDA. Find here the recorded oral statement (Spanish translation of the oral statement available here) and you can find the recorded closing plenary session here


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