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Global mayors group calls for support for Afghan refugees

1 September 20210 comments

A global group of city mayors has called on countries around the world to accept more refugees from Afghanistan.

As the US and its allies finally exited Afghanistan after 20 years, thousands of Afghans are still attempting to flee the country to protect their rights and freedoms.

The mayors of the Mayors Migration Council’s (MMC) Leadership Board say they are preparing to welcome Afghans seeking refuge in their cities.

In the past month alone, 300,000 Afghans have fled their homes in search of safety, joining six million Afghans who have been displaced by decades of conflict.

The mayors of the MMC along with other mayors and city-led organisations representing over 240,000 cities from around the world, issued an open statement calling on national governments to immediately open their doors to Afghan refugees and provide the resources needed to facilitate resettlement.

The statement also encouraged donors and other mayors to provide humanitarian support to refugees and asylum seekers.

“We are deeply saddened by the situation in Afghanistan, which exacerbates one of the world’s longest standing humanitarian and displacement crises,” the statement said.

“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 neighbouring 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,” the statement said.

The mayors called on national government 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.

Donors to: 

  • 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 catalysing 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 statement said. 

The group of mayors includes: Cr Lina Messina, Mayor of Darebin, Australia; Cr Gillian Aldridge, Mayor of Salisbury, Australia; Ricardo Nunes, Mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, Marie Angèle Meyanga epse Noah Ngah, Mayor of Afanloum, Cameroon; Fred Eisenberger, Mayor of Hamilton, Canada; Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal, Canada; Luc Carvounas, Mayor of Alfortville, France; Pierre Hurmic, Mayor of Bordeaux, France; Bruno Bernard, President, Métropole de Lyon, France; Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany; Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan, Italy; Som Prasad Mishra, Mayor of Changunarayan, Nepal; Hubert Bruls, Mayor of Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Taysir Taha, Mayor of Hebron, Palestine; Ricardo Rio, Mayor of Braga, Portugal; Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, Scotland; Corine Mauch, Mayor of Zürich, Switzerland; Cr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, United Kingdom; Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, United Kingdom; Nick Forbes, Leader, Newcastle City Council, United Kingdom; Tim Keller, Mayor of Albuquerque, United States; Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, United States; Kim Janey, Mayor of Boston, United States; Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago, United States; Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston, United States; Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, United States; Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor of Miami-Dade, United States, and; Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York, United States.