Communiqué - World Refugee Day
Every year, on the 20th of June, World Refugee Day celebrates the courage of those who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. Their number keeps increasing and in 2021 it stands at more than 30 million (including asylum seekers), most of them stranded in low- or middle-income transit countries. The reality is that there are little or no opportunities for them in these countries to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to adapt to future challenges. Yet life-long learning is essential to remain competitive in a fast-changing labour market. For refugees education is capital, whatever their age and background, as most of them are not only on the move but also, in most cases, transitioning towards new livelihood opportunities.
For over a decade, the University of Geneva has been committed to empowering refugees through Higher Education opportunities in Geneva and in fragile contexts, such as refugee camps.
Since 2016, the Horizon Academic programme has been facilitating the integration of refugees in the UNIGE faculties and in the HES-SO, also in Geneva. This programme strengthens the professional integration of refugees and people with a migration background. It allows them to resume their studies and/or offers career guidance. Horizon Académique provides individual follow-ups, access to academic classes, intensive French courses and mentoring support. The programme is driven by a dedicated academic community, which includes administrative staff, lecturers, volunteer students and academic advisers.
InZone delivers innovative blended learning solutions to refugees. For the past 10 years, this pioneering centre has been offering, a range of higher education courses in refugee-led learning hubs located in camps In collaboration with several leading academic institutions in Switzerland, Jordan and Kenya.
Thanks to Horizon Académique and InZone, every year more than 300 refugees have access to such opportunities, in Geneva or in camps. And we are willing to do more! Less than 3% of refugees in the world today benefit from life-long learning opportunities, mainly due to insufficient financial resources and a lack of commitment from international donors.
We therefore call upon States and the donor community to be brave enough to invest in Higher Education for refugees, in line with their pledge in the Global Compact for refugees. We also call upon the academic community, supported by UNHCR and the humanitarian actors in the field, to welcome refugees into their programmes, thus contributing to the collective effort to integrate them in society.