Global perspective Human stories

Refugees and Migrants

Refugees and Migrants

A family displaced by fighting in the village of Shora, 25 kilometres south of Mosul, Iraq, walk towards an army checkpoint on the outskirts of Qayyarah. Photo: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett
UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Over the long-term the evidence is clear: the benefits of migration vastly outweigh the challenges. And without a clear understanding of migration, negative narratives surround migrants.

Louise Arbour, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, in remarks to a multi-stakeholder event, 21 Feb '18


The large forced displacement of populations is a global crisis that requires a collective effort by the international community, led by world leaders. UN Secretary-General has called on everyone to work together to define a clear path forward guided by international refugee law, human rights and humanitarian law.

Global Response
UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

Record-breaking numbers of refugees and migrants are moving across international borders, fleeing conflict, persecution, poverty and other life-threatening situations, or responding to labour and skill shortages and demographic changes and seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Their journeys can be fraught with peril; appalling tales of tragedies feature daily in the headlines. Those that make it to a destination are frequently met with hostility and intolerance. Those host communities making an effort to provide relief are often unprepared and overburdened by the sheer numbers arriving. Responsibilities are not well distributed: a small number of countries and host communities host disproportionate numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

Beyond loss of life, the large displacement of populations has broader implications for the social, economic, and political landscape

The international response needs to be more robust and collaborative amongst a variety of stakeholders to address large movements of refugees and migrants. The UN system, NGOs and partners are all working to highlight the issue, to secure commitments for assistance and to strengthen the collective response to the crisis.

Global Response

Compact for Migration

Compact on Refugees

New York Declaration

Reports and Documents


UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants

UN System

UN agencies, funds and entities involved

Greek volunteer life-guards help a young child out of a boat that reached the shores of Lesbos, having crossed the Aegean sea from Turkey.
UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis
GA High-level Summit

United Nations Summit on Refugees and Migrants

UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

The UN General Assembly convened a high-level meeting to address large movements of refugees and migrants on 19 September 2016, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach. The issue of large movements of refugees and migrants is too vast for any one state to handle on its own. The international community must work together to find durable solutions.


UN Officials

Louise Arbour of Canada, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration


The Special Representative leads the follow-up to the migration-related aspects of the 19 September 2016 High-level Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.





Previous senior leadership appointments include:

  • Peter Sutherland of Ireland,  who served as Special Representative on Migration for more than 11 years from January 2006;
  • Karen AbuZayd of the United States, who served as Special Adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants from January to October 2016.;
  • Izumi Nakamitsu of Japan, who served as Special Adviser ad interim on the follow-up to the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants from November 2016 to February 2017.




IOM - UN Migration 🇺🇳
IOM - UN Migration 🇺🇳