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The UNHCR estimates that over 60 per cent of the world’s 19.5 million refugees and 80 per cent of 34 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) live in urban environments. This can pose dangers to refugees who may be vulnerable to exploitation, arrest or detention, and who can be forced to compete with the poorest local workers for the worst jobs. However, unlike a camp, cities provide opportunities, allowing refugees to live anonymously, make money and build a better future. Cities also offer interconnected networks of public, private and civic actors who can play an important role in responding to the global refugee crisis.
This session will start by looking at the wider role of institutions within cities receiving refugees. Panellists representing universities from the cities of Toronto (Canada) and York (UK) will share how their respective institutions and city have responded to refugees often from conflict backgrounds, offering a place of safety and integrating them into local communities. We also hear how universities and cities much closer to the conflict areas are responding to the huge numbers of refugees entering their countries and, in particular, to those seeking places in universities. Finally we hear about a global response which transcends cities and speaks to the importance of interconnectivity in every sense. Following four short introductory presentations, the session will be opened out for the audience to participate in the discussion.
- Vivienne Stern, Director, Universities UK International, UK (Chair)
- Dr Helena Barroco, Diplomatic Adviser, Global Platform for Syrian Students, Portugal
- Monika Jako, Director of Community Engagement and Social Innovation, Ryerson University, Canada
- Professor Koen Lamberts, Vice-Chancellor, University of York, UK