Tedi Africa at the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) 2023 in Geneva

Tedi Africa had the opportunity to attend the United Nations’ Global Refugee Forum – GRF held on the 13th to 15th December, 2023 at the Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland. The Forum also included several other linked events happening across different locations in that historic city from the 11th of December onwards. The Global Refugee Forum, UNHCR tells us,  is the single largest international convening on refugee affairs. It convenes world leaders, humanitarian and development actors, and increasingly, a huge set of refugees, including their top leadership as well as the organizations and initiatives they lead. Convening every four years, the first GRF gathering was held in 2019 in the same venue with over 3,000 participants across the world, joining in solidarity with the refugees. This year’s forum was the largest so far with over 4,200 attendees from different backgrounds according to the United Nations’ refugee agency’s chief, Filippo Grandi. Co-convened by five States – Colombia, France, Japan, Jordan and Uganda, and co-hosted by the Government of Switzerland and UNHCR, this year’s GRF saw a huge improvement in terms of refugee participation but more substantially, the quality of pledges made, and the conversations had.

At Tedi Africa, forced displacement sits at the heart of our strategic foresight. Our history is intimately linked with the question of refugeehood, the plight of refugees in host communities and so forth. As a consequence, we have always sought out ways to shape this conversation. Our Executive Director, Mr. Matai Muon had a rare opportunity to actively engage in the forum both as a participant but more critically as a panelist. Contributing to the question ‘From refugee inclusion to shifting power: Building a global refugee sector that puts refugees first,’ our Executive Director joined an exceptional, and distinguished co-panelists drawn from different leadership, and individual capacities across the world. As always, our Executive Director leveraged the space to speak truth to power; refugees must be seen for who they are, a powerful force that contributes actively to the world. Additionally, he cautioned the fully-packed Hilton room against tokenistic tendency pursued by some allies. Instead, Mr. Muon offered that refugee participation needed to move away from mere numbers to critical engagement.

Our CEO (far left) participating in the panel discussion on December 15th, 2023

For him, refugees had to be engaged on the quality of their inputs, not just the sheer size of their numbers which were often co-opted for different reasons, he further clarified. Furthermore, he believed that time was ripe to critically assess the gains made in the Movement since 2019 especially regarding refugees’ resource handling, and governance at the margins. In his own words:

“The next 4 years we should talk about different things, like where funding goes. There’s huge mismanagement at the national/local level. Quality of participation is also key, instead of the quantity of refugees at the GRF”

Our CEO watched on as his fellow co-panelist made a point during the GRF side event on December 15th 2023

Tedi Africa continues to shape global issues such as the issue of refugees as it works at the bottom to help address some of these pressing challenges. We are thankful to The New Humanitarian, and the Refugee-Led Research Hub of the University of Oxford for their financial, and technical support to make our participation a reality. 

Leave a Reply