Statement: IRC’s David Miliband responds to new record number of 70.8 million refugees and displaced people around the world

New York, NY, June 19, 2019 —

David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said:

“Today’s record-setting figures are a wake-up call to the human cost of war, economic misery and climate stress -- representing a clear international failure to tackle the defining political and humanitarian crisis of our time. As the numbers of displaced grow, we are seeing a tragic retreat from diplomacy that should be addressing the root causes of conflict and displacement, whether in Libya or Yemen, Venezuela or Syria. Instead of pursuing accountability for war crimes and investing in peace-building, we are trapped in an age of impunity that is placing civilians, as well as humanitarians, in the crossfire, and driving thousands from their homes every day.

“With humanitarian budgets continually under-funded, and the laws of war meant to protect civilians constantly broken, we are failing displaced people -- especially women and girls -- who have fled for their lives and simply want to find safety. Both the public and private sectors need to dramatically scale up effective and long-term support that helps refugees survive and rebuild their lives. We must innovate in providing displaced people with access to finance, employment and markets in crisis settings so they have the power to decide what they need. The humanitarian sector must work with more efficiency in treating malnutrition and other health challenges facing the victims of war and extreme poverty. And we must expand education for displaced children - currently less than 2% of the global humanitarian budget - so that children in conflict settings have a chance to thrive and build peaceful and prosperous futures.

“The IRC calls on the United States, the world’s richest nation, to reverse the current course of denying assistance and safety to refugees and asylum-seekers. The U.S. should instead resume its historic leadership role on resettlement by welcoming no fewer than 95,000 refugees in the next fiscal year, in line with historic norms. Equally, Congress must continue to defy proposed budget cuts to U.S. foreign assistance, and instead expand this life-saving work in key areas of humanitarian programming where evidence is strongest or breakthrough solutions are possible. And finally, the U.S. must use its political and economic clout to bring warring parties to the table -- not to fuel conflict, as has been the case with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen -- and to support allies like Jordan and Ethiopia who host the vast majority of the world's refugees."

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The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.