Thank you very much.
It's an honour to be able to address the committee. Thank you for this opportunity.
I might not even use my 10 minutes, but I will say a few remarks on mixed migration and durable solutions.
Let me first say that I was on the board of the International Institute for Sustainable Development for six years and visited Canada—Ottawa and Winnipeg—many times and used the opportunity to also study the Canadian resettlement, refugee and volunteer integration activities. I pay a lot of respect to the quality of those programs and the commitment of the Canadian government and people in welcoming refugees. I think we can learn more from you than you can learn from us.
I am the secretary general of the Danish Refugee Council. It's one of the five largest organizations in the world working on displacement and humanitarian assistance to people who have been displaced. We have 7,500 staff in 40 countries—all displacement situations, we are there—with a budget of around $600 million Canadian dollars.
We work all around the displacement cycle, from internally displaced to near areas, to programs in Greece, to supporting asylum, to a volunteer program in Denmark, to integration activities from language to family support, to diaspora programs supporting the diaspora to work and create projects back home, and to return to repatriation. We are, in a sense, a unique organization working all around the displacement cycle.
The current migration refugee crisis, I believe, is primarily a protection crisis. It's a crisis in our core values of human dignity and human rights. That is very much how it is playing out in Europe and in the routes connecting people to Europe. We see this with a lot of clarity in the DRC because we have created the Mixed Migration Centre—which runs from my program—where we conduct, and have conducted, 20,000 interviews with migrants and refugees on all major routes going to Europe. We have not yet established a similar program in the Americas, but it is definitely on the horizon.
We do these in-depth interviews—around 1,200 a month—on all major routes towards Europe. They are in-depth interviews asking refugees and migrants where they come from, why they have left, where they want to go, and what they have experienced on the route. This data is now showing us is a very concerning picture.
Around 80% of those walking on the route face protection concerns and violations. Thirty per cent experience people dying on the routes where they move. If you go to the website you can draw the data. For instance, if you select Eritrea, sexual abuse, and women, you will see how the border between Sudan and Eritrea is now turning red and yellow, signalling that women trying to escape out of Eritrea are now captured on that border, where the European Union worked with the Sudanese government in order to strengthen border control. This is where the women are caught and they are facing sexual abuse and violations.
If you go to the website, you can also see what the conditions are in Libya and its detention centres. Through this dataset, we have been able to show how there are many more women and girls captured in the detention centres in Libya who are facing severe violations there. You can go to the Afghan border. You can see how the border between Afghanistan and Iran is increasingly being closed, and how Afghan refugees are stuck on that border where they are facing brutal violations and beatings from a coalition of militias and border police who are also taking them hostage and claiming ransoms from the families.
This is a very disturbing picture. Our main message is that when countries are increasingly trying to protect their borders, we must do a lot more to protect the people who are stuck on the route and stuck on these borders at the same time.
It is very much a protection crisis that we are facing, more than it's a migration-refugee crisis. The number of people who are crossing the Mediterranean has dropped by 95% to 96% since it peaked in 2015. Asylum numbers in a country like Denmark are now at a historical low. The main crisis we have to focus on is the protection crisis.
To solve this, the solution is to engage much more forcefully to protect people on the routes and, first and foremost, to create durable solutions that allow people to stay where they are and where we can find durable solutions in the near areas. This is, of course, about ensuring that refugees and vulnerable migrants have access to basic health care and services to ensure that in the protracted crisis, refugees have access to education, health and livelihood opportunities. This is something that we have said for years, but not yet delivered on.
If you go to Lebanon, 80% of the refugees there are living below the poverty line, and still 30% to 50% of the kids are not in school. Of course, many of these families turn desperate and wish to move on, just as the women who are facing violations on the routes have often no other option than to keep moving on to seek protection and some kind of dignity. These are very much the issues that we have to handle.
In creating durable solutions—and this is the objective of the global compact on refugees and of the comprehensive refugee response framework that we must now hopefully agree on and thereby seek to implement—these solutions will depend on a number of issues. First and foremost is the ability and the willingness of host countries to engage and provide the access to health, education and livelihood opportunities, but they will need an increased financing scheme. They will need to see an increased commitment in resettlement schemes to take out some of the most vulnerable refugees. This has to be part of a joint solution, a common solution, framed and formed under the new global compact and the CRRF.
In creating these solutions, we also need to tackle the humanitarian development divide, which is very much present in the funding modalities of so many countries. On the ground, it is often not as complicated. When we operate inside of Somalia, where we run a very large program, we help communities in Somalia prepare for the return of IDPs. When the IDPs return, we stand ready with cash assistance. We give them shelter. We ensure that they have water and a start-up package.
We, at the same time, work with the local community on its development plan. We work with the police to make sure that they can provide security for the girls and women who may return home and be engaged in livelihood activities for both the host community and the IDPs who may come back.
In this, there's no humanitarian development, but there is very much so in the funding modalities: in the humanitarian funding, in the development funding. A lot more needs to be done in order to build a nexus approach, as you would say in the fancy new world, but simply creating funding modalities can support durable solutions.
We do water trucking for almost $20,000 U.S. a day to the refugees in northern Uganda. This is because we have a three-month humanitarian grant to provide water solutions and water trucking. With such a short time horizon, it's the only option. If funding in such a situation were given a two-year horizon, we could easily provide durable solutions in terms of proper wells, water pumps and solar panels that can provide water solutions both for the community and for the refugees, primarily from South Sudan, who are walking into northern Uganda.
These are just examples of how we really need to work on our funding modalities to ensure that we can protect people where they are and that we can provide durable solutions. Then we must increase and expand the protection space and not limit it as we see right now in Europe, where more and more countries are limiting their asylum space. This must be protected and expanded to more and more countries so that refugees can seek protection in more and more countries, seek access to asylum, seek access to durable solutions and be protected where they are.
Thank you very much.