How We Can Respond to the Refugee Crisis to Create Greater Integration and Belonging

Leadership & Public Service | Clinton Global Initiative

Members of the Clinton Global Initiative Community Share Seven Ways We Can Respond to the Refugee Crisis Around the World

Today, 1 in every 78 people on earth have been forced to leave their homes due to political persecution, conflict, violence, and climate change. Over 100 million people have been displaced — the highest number on record.1 For many others, natural disasters and a lack of housing and public services threaten their ability to stay rooted in their communities.

These trends prompt an important question: what does it mean to be at “home”? This September, leaders came together through the Clinton Global Initiative to drive action on the world’s most pressing challenges — including the refugee crisis around the world, as well as climate change, inclusive economic growth, and health equity.



Keep reading for seven insights these leaders shared about how we can respond to the global refugee crisis and foster community and belonging in an increasingly unstable world.


It Takes a Village

Polina Frishko and her family were forced to flee Ukraine when war began earlier this year. She shared how she supports others who resettle in her new South Carolina neighborhood. Learn more about her work through Carolinas for Ukraine.

“It takes a village to integrate newcomers into [a] new life. So, all together, we’re showing people through small but meaningful acts that they are welcome here, that they can put down new roots in America, that all is not lost.”


Cultivate Community and Sow Seeds of Opportunity

Muhidin Libah reflected on how he adapted to life in New England as a former refugee from Somalia. Learn more about the Somali Bantu Community Association, where he serves as executive director.

“When I arrived in Maine, other former refugees reached out to me and offered me warm clothes, new connections, and job opportunities. I realized that, even though Maine in so many ways could not be more different from my first home, Somalia, it wasn’t that different at all. The people are loving and prayerful, and best of all for me, the land was so rich and ready to be farmed. You see, the Somali Bantu people are farmers. In our own country, the soil tends to be dry and undernourished but in Maine, the soil was different, easy to plant in, [and] full of possibilities. So, I started planting seeds.”


Expand Access to Education

David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, spoke about the need to increase educational resources for young refugees:

“Half of the hundred million displaced, they’re under the age of 18. But how much of the humanitarian budget goes on education? Less than 3%… Education is not a luxury in humanitarian settings — it’s an absolute essential.”


Take Advantage of Technology

Activist Malala Yousafzai discussed the importance of technology as a tool for young people who may not have access to traditional means of education:

“We’re so grateful that we live in this digital world. We have technology, we have the resources, and if we come together, we can come up with solutions on a bigger scale on which we can make education accessible across Afghanistan and then in other parts of the world as well…”


Prepare to Respond Faster and Sooner

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan urged leaders to look to the future and prepare for even greater rates of displacement that will result from climate change:

“Mass migration and forced displacement is going to be an annual norm. We need to be prepared for the next time this crisis happens, because it will. We need to be able to respond faster and sooner. That means [we’re] looking at refugees through the windshield, not through the rearview mirror… According to the World Bank, by the year 2050, upwards of 200 million people will be displaced, just from climate change.”


We Must Act and Every Minute is Critical

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and founder of Chobani and founder of Tent Partnership for Refugees, shared how he believes the current moment provides an opportunity to reshape society for the better:

“We have a moment of opportunity where we have awareness of the general public, we have activists, young people are getting involved and we have just passed one of the most historic dramatic events… This is the perfect moment to reshape society for our children, so every minute is extremely important. Every effort is extremely important.”


Global Leadership Matters

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi emphasized the critical role that governments and political leaders play in shaping public opinion:

“When refugees are received in an organized manner, with a good plan, when politicians instead of telling public opinion, ‘They’re coming here to steal your jobs, to threaten your values and your security,’ when they [politicians] tell people, ‘It’s important that we are generous with refugees,’ it works. Public opinion does not turn against refugees.”


Watch the full session