Queen Rania: The refugee crisis needs to be a top priority for the global community

  • "Those countries that are least equipped to handle such a crisis are the ones who end up bearing the brunt of it," Queen Rania told CNBC in Davos, when discussing the refugee crisis.
  • In a report, the UN agency stated that over 65 million people were forcibly displaced at 2016-end, of which 22.5 million were refugees.

Tackling the refugee crisis is a global responsibility that cannot be taken on alone by a single region or nation, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan has told CNBC.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, last week, the Jordanian royal underlined how her country had committed more than 20 percent of its budget to directly cover the cost of refugees.

Queen Rania added that while she was proud of her country's generosity and patience, she was disheartened that citizens had "to pay such a heavy price, because of the global inaction."

A United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) global trends report revealed that by the end of 2016, developing regions were hosting 84 percent of the world's refugees (under UNHCR's mandate), with the least developed nations offering asylum to 28 percent of the overall total.

In that same report, the UN agency stated that over 65 million people were forcibly displaced at 2016-end, of which 22.5 million were refugees.

"Those countries that are least equipped to handle such a crisis are the ones who end up bearing the brunt of it," Queen Rania told CNBC at "The Sanctuary" in Davos on Thursday.

Queen Rania of Jordan meets Rohingya muslim refugees during her visit to the Kutupalong camp on October 23, 2017 in Ukhia, Bangladesh
Jordanian Royal Court/Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Queen Rania of Jordan meets Rohingya muslim refugees during her visit to the Kutupalong camp on October 23, 2017 in Ukhia, Bangladesh

"Jordan has taken in 1.3 million refugees, which has had a devastating impact on our country," she added, explaining how the majority lived in towns and cities, having a "tremendous impact" on infrastructure, resources and services including education and healthcare.

"I'm sad to say, that the international response has been lacking. Some countries have been generous, and we're very grateful to that, but the scale and the scope of the crisis way outpaces the support that we're getting."

The royal explained that the issue needed to be prioritized worldwide, with more needing to be done to highlight the benefits that refugees can bring.

"I definitely think that, in general, the global community really needs to prioritize this issue," she said. "I think we're living in a world where fear dominates, and I think people are fearing all the changes, the disruptive forces of change, one of them is migration."

"I feel that when people are fearful, it affects the decisions they make and, unfortunately, that feeds in to populist politics, which sometimes means that we shun away what's foreign, and want to seek what's familiar — and that means not letting foreigners come in to our country."

"That's a real issue we have to face, because, historically, countries have always benefited from diversity, and economies have grown when they've let other nationalities in. So, I think it's a mentality of openness that we really need to embrace," she added.

Queen Rania of Jordan meets Rohingya muslim refugees during her visit to the Kutupalong camp on October 23, 2017 in Ukhia, Bangladesh
Jordanian Royal Court/Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Queen Rania of Jordan meets Rohingya muslim refugees during her visit to the Kutupalong camp on October 23, 2017 in Ukhia, Bangladesh

Queen Rania's comments followed similar remarks made by actress and campaigner Cate Blanchett at WEF. The Oscar winner told an audience last week that the world was at "a fork in the road" when it came to the migration crisis, and that what was "incredibly upsetting" was the amount of "misinformation about refugees" that had emerged.

Queen Rania is a board member of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a nongovernmental group focused on global humanitarian aid, relief, and development, in addition to being an advocate of the work of UN humanitarian agencies.

She has previously called on the global community to respond to such crises during visits to refugee camps and at high-level summits.

Until society embraces the notion that this movement of people is "part of the human experience," only then can countries update and remodel humanitarian systems, Queen Rania added, highlighting how communities across the globe can respond more efficiently to crises such as these.

"Otherwise, we'll just be limping from one crisis to the next, leaving a trail of heartbreak and broken lives behind — and I think that that's not to anybody's benefit."

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FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP | Getty Images