P Track

Refugees and Migration: Moving People and Perceptions

Grand Ballroom


Matthew Reynolds, Regional Representative, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Nazanin Ash, Vice President for Global Policy and Advocacy, International Rescue Committee

Ann Hollingsworth, Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Advisor, Refugees International

Raina Kadavil, CEO, Urban Refuge


The world has never known such large numbers of people on the move, for both positive and negative reasons, with major implications for all of humanity. Migration has increasingly become an avenue for finding new social and economic opportunities, but recent years have seen the start of a backlash against this, with fear of mass migration sparking political unrest worldwide. Meanwhile, the world is in the midst of a refugee crisis, with an unprecedented 70.8 million people around the world forced from their homes. Many try to escape poverty, gang violence, natural disasters, persecution, and statelessness, among them nearly 25.9 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Violence, unrest, and conflict is the major cause, resulting in 6.7 million displaced from Syria, 909,000 from among the Rohingya of Myanmar, estimates of up to 4 million from Venezuela, and many thousands fleeing gang violence and crime in Latin America. Moreover, since 2008, an average of 24 million people have been displaced by catastrophic weather disasters each year, and climate change is expected to increase this number.

This panel will discuss the movement of people in the modern world, including the rights, benefits and implications of migration, as well as the refugee crisis and what can be done to address it. In particular, it will seek to tell young people what they need to know on this issue and suggest how youth might be able to make a difference in this field.

Possible Discussion Points:

  • Why is the number of international migrants growing so fast? What are the bene!ts and potential negative implications of this?
  • Why have recent years seen growing fear and backlash against migration and accepting refugees, most notably in the US and Europe? Are these concerns legitimate, and what can be done to address them? Should young people today be wary of migrating?
  • What are the main root causes of the refugee crisis, and what can be done to stop it?
  • Why is there growing unwillingness to accept refugees in certain countries, and how can the e$ects of this be mitigated?
  • What is the appropriate response to those who say countries should prioritize their own citizens before accepting refugees?
  • What are the potential wider implications of the refugee crisis? Will it impact progress towards achieving the other SDGs? Could it trigger further conflict and unrest?
  • What is the best pathway forward for countries, organizations and international organizations to address this issue?
  • What can young people, in particular, do to prevent a backlash against migrants, and help those suffering from the refugee crisis?