Cities are prepared to welcome Afghan refugees, but need national support to accelerate resettlement
Contact: Ivonne Rodriguez, firstname.lastname@example.org
26 August 2021 – Today, mayors and organizations representing more than 240,000 cities around the world issued an urgent plea for national governments to immediately open their doors to Afghan refugees, and for governments and donors to provide the resources needed to facilitate resettlement at the local level.
The statement, organized by the Mayors Migration Council, was signed by more than 50 mayors, including Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti, Milan’s Giuseppe Sala, Kampala’s Erias Lukwago, Montréal’s Valérie Plante, New York City’s Bill DeBlasio, São Paulo’s Ricardo Nunes, Bristol’s Marvin Rees, and Zürich’s Corine Mauch. It calls on mayors who haven’t yet committed to welcoming Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in their cities to do so.
While a number of mayors have offered to take in more Afghan refugees, this is the first time mayors across the globe have united to state with one voice that they are open to resettling more Afghan refugees and urging their national governments to support them in doing so.
The full text of the statement and list of signers is available here and included below:
We are deeply saddened by the situation in Afghanistan, which exacerbates one of the world’s longest standing humanitarian and displacement crises. In the past two months, 300,000 Afghans have fled their homes in search of safe havens or a way out. They join six million Afghan refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) already forced to move by decades of conflict and with little hope for return. Most of those fleeing Afghanistan now are women whose rights and freedoms are further at risk and children whose futures are now in jeopardy.
As mayors representing cities across the globe, we stand ready to immediately welcome Afghan refugees in our communities. We call on our national governments and the international community to urgently work with the global network of city leaders and civil society to expand pathways and provide humanitarian support now.
70 percent of the world’s refugees, asylum seekers, and IDPs already live in cities, connecting us to families and cultures all over the world. City leaders are experienced — through will and necessity — in building strong, diverse communities founded on welcoming and inclusion. Cities big and small around the world are already stepping up in support of the Afghan people — from committing to welcome thousands of new Afghan refugees in their cities, to establishing city-run relief funds to aid those in need of assistance. But we can and must do more.
We commit to providing safety and support to Afghans already living in our respective cities, their families and loved ones, and those who will inevitably flee over the coming weeks and months. We stand with the mayors and local governments of Afghanistan who have welcomed internally displaced and returning Afghans for decades and are now facing threats. We also recognize that without a truly global protection response based on solidarity, the responsibility for hosting Afghans fleeing their country will once again fall on the shoulders of neighboring countries and localities along migration routes. We stand next to the mayors in these major reception areas as they prepare to support new arrivals.
In cooperation with national and international partners, we can open our cities to Afghans today.
Together, we invite:
National governments to:
- Expand protection and pathways to resettlement for Afghan families and individuals, including simplifying asylum and reunification procedures.
- Support and expand immediate evacuations of at-risk Afghan families and individuals.
- Decriminalize journeys of Afghan families and individuals that are not undertaken through regular pathways
- Stop forcible returns of Afghan asylum seekers given the impossibility of safe and dignified return at this time.
- Cooperate with and resource city governments to facilitate the welcoming, protection, and inclusion of Afghan families and individuals so they can recover and rebuild their lives.
- Close the gap in humanitarian assistance for at-risk Afghans, meeting the United Nations’ call for $1.3 billion USD to reach people in need, currently funded only at 37 percent.
- Channel financial and technical resources to city governments and their local partners to accelerate on-the-ground responses in refugee receiving cities.
Mayoral colleagues to:
- Join our commitment to welcome, protect, and include Afghan refugees and asylum seekers as residents of our cities.
- Advocate for your national government to expand protection, including resettlement, for Afghan families and individuals.
- Provide services, funds, and support to affected Afghans in partnership with local NGOs and diaspora communities.
As mayors catalyzing bolder and smarter global action on migration and refugees, the situation in Afghanistan has further strengthened our commitment to working with our national governments, international partners, and city government colleagues around the world to provide all refugees and asylum seekers safety and security during these challenging times. The solution to the enduring displacement of Afghan people is also an urban one.
The full list of signers is here.
The Mayors Migration Council (MMC) is a mayor-led advisory and advocacy organization that helps cities shape national and international policy on migration and displacement. Our mission is to ensure that global responses to pressing challenges—from pandemics to climate change—both reflect and address realities on the ground for the benefit of migrants, displaced persons, and the communities that receive them.
We are led by a Leadership Board composed of the mayors of Amman, Bristol, Freetown, Kampala, Los Angeles, Milan, Montreal, and Zürich. We operate with the financial support of Open Society Foundations, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and we are managed as a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.