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Contemporary Population Trends Resulting from Conflict-Related Displacements Should Be Embedded in New Agenda, Commission Told as Debate Continued

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POP/1040

Commission on Population and Development, Forty-eighth Session,
7th Meeting (AM)
Economic and Social Council
Meetings Coverage

Island States Warn Natural Disasters Could ‘Undo Decades of Development in a Day’

The impact of conflict and natural disasters and the often resulting flows of refugees and displaced persons must be included when considering contemporary population trends and transitions and their integration into the new development agenda, the Commission on Population and Development heard today.

As general debate continued, the representative of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said that amid the process of negotiating new goals, there had been unprecedented forced displacement in the Arab region as a result of ongoing crises in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. ESCWA had taken an active role in preparing Arab countries for negotiations at the global level and converging perspectives towards a shared regional position on the proposed goals.

In that connection, she stressed that the post-2015 framework must have at its core population dimensions that reflected the region’s conditions, situation and empirical reality. Critical population groups such as forced migrants would require special attention if the aspirations of the region’s people and countries were to be embedded in the new blueprint for development.

Along those lines, Jordan’s representative said that the forced influx of Syrians and the political instability in the region had harmed her country’s development efforts and increased pressure on its infrastructure and public services. As of March, Jordan was hosting 1.4 million forced immigrants from Syria, a number that was expected to grow. That burden must be shared by the international community.

The representative of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) expressed concern that displaced persons might slip through the cracks of the intergovernmental process, as it appeared unlikely that goals, targets or conflict-related displacement indicators would be adopted. More than 5 million Palestine refugees were registered with the Agency. Many had been dispossessed not once, but multiple times, he said.

Agreeing that the international community should give attention to the population trends caused by conflicts, natural disasters, and migratory flows, the observer for the State of Palestine said that while the post-2015 sustainable development goals were, in principle, of global reach, they needed to take due account of the growing number of refugees and displaced persons.

Speakers also drew the Commission’s attention to other regions coping with population shifts due to unrest. Madagascar’s representative, for example, said that the presence of terrorist groups had increased the number of refugees and internally displaced persons in her country, which strained existing infrastructure and was at the root of many conflicts. That was putting more vulnerable groups, such as women and children, at greater risk.

New demographic challenges arising from growing environmental pressures, said Fiji’s representative, also made addressing core population and development issues more difficult. He pointed to the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters associated with climate change, which he said could undo decades of development in a day. His own country had had to relocate entire villages, as they had been made uninhabitable by climatic impacts, and had plans to relocate more. The only path towards sustainable lives for his people would come from meaningful solutions coupled with honest implementation of the new goals.

Also speaking today were representatives of Japan, Algeria, Morocco, Dominican Republic, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Papua New Guinea, Benin, Chad, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Viet Nam, Malawi, United Republic of Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Syria.

An observer for the Holy See also participated, as did representatives of the League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Economic Commission for Africa, International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization.

Also participating were representatives of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund, Partners in Population and Development, and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

Speaking in exercise of right of reply were representatives of Israel and Syria and the observer for the State of Palestine.

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 17 April, to conclude its general debate and consider the session’s outcome.

Statements

REIKO HAYASHI, Director of International Research and Cooperation, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research of Japan, said that this year, the aging ratio in his country — the proportion of people aged 65 and older — reached 26.3 per cent, the highest in the world. Meanwhile, fertility decline was nearing a point that could threaten the country’s existence, while life expectancy was the highest in the world. As such, Japan was working to create a favourable environment for couples to have children, including continued provision of child allowance, maternity and paternity leave and expansion of nurseries and kindergartens. A subsidy scheme had been introduced to tackle infertility. One quarter of the population decline had been offset by an increase of immigrants from 2005 to 2010, he said, noting efforts to promote the immigration of highly skilled professionals. Japan welcomed the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health in the sustainable development goals proposed by the Open Working Group.

DJAMEL MOKTEFI (Algeria), associating with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the world had been facing new challenges due to population dynamics. Progress on any of the sustainable development goals relating to poverty, health or education would affect all the others and should be a global objective. For its part, Algeria had shown its commitment to the process through implementing the recommendations on the International Conference on Population and Development. Further, his country had been working hard to ensure gender equality, fully implement human rights, and eradicate discrimination. Making concrete progress required mobilized funding, and his country wished to see global action to enhance the protection and promotion of women and family.

LARBI TABIT (Morocco) said his country had taken legislative and judicial measures to promote democracy and fundamental freedoms for its people. It had adopted a new constitution in 2011 and enacted laws leading to institutional reform. It had also established a fund to help women and children in poverty. It had sought to bring about social integration and provide subsidies to those segments of society requiring them. His Government also provided free schooling programmes for children up to the age of 11 and had been working to reduce the gap between girls and boys. From 2011 to 2012, it had achieved progress on the health front, including in the provision of contraceptives and health care for mothers and children. To advance gender equality, Morocco had included women’s rights in development programmes, taken steps to combat gender-based violence, and established a national observatory for women.

LILIAM FONDEUR (Dominican Republic), welcoming the meeting on integrating population issues into sustainable development, reiterated her country’s support to the implementation of the Cairo objectives from 1994. Despite recent progress, there still was a high level of unemployment in her country, affecting the efforts to reduce poverty. Additionally, gender wage gap and violence against women remained a barrier to achieving an egalitarian society. Taking a concrete step, the Government had passed several laws and developed its 2030 National Development Strategy in line with the post-2015 development agenda.

SAWSAN MAJALI (Jordan) said her country had developed national strategies and plans to include population issues in national development schemes. However, the influx of Syrians and the political instability in the region had harmed her country’s development efforts and increased pressure on its infrastructure and public services. By the end of March, there were 1.4 million immigrants from Syria, and that number was expected to grow as a result of continued unrest in that country. Stressing that the situation there had affected Jordan’s national population policies, she urged the international community to meet its commitments and help Jordanian efforts towards sustaining the Syrian refugees.

PHONEVANH OUTHAVONG, Deputy Director in the Ministry of Planning and Investment of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, stressed the need to integrate population dynamics into sustainable development planning in order to maximize benefits and mitigate challenges. People under the age of 25 accounted for more than half of her country’s population and the Government was charting ways to ensure that they possessed the capabilities and opportunities needed for a sustainable future. National policies and programmes were being devised and implemented accordingly. As a country facing rapid socioeconomic changes with increasing migration, it saw the importance of planning and building sustainable cities and strengthening urban-rural linkages. However, more needed to be done to ensure the well-being of the people, she said, calling for increased international collaboration and assistance.

JULIE SOSO AKEKE (Papua New Guinea) said the Cairo Programme of Action highlighted the importance of integrating population concerns into sustainable development strategies. Successfully achieving the following set of global sustainable development goals required that no one be left behind. It was essential, therefore, to prioritize population management and stabilization. Her country’s development initiatives were people–centric with a paradigm of balance and sustainability. Additionally, they recognized that a healthy, educated population was the engine of development, while environmental protection was also ensured. Appreciating the ongoing constructive partnership on the Cairo plan, she called on all parties to support the integration of those issues in the new agenda.

SALEM AUCHEME (Benin), associating with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said his country had achieved notable progress. It had adopted a national population plan, as well as laws relating to sexual and reproductive health. It had provided free primary schooling for children and microcredit programs for women. It had also adopted a national youth policy to facilitate employment and entrepreneurship. Despite those achievements, he remained concerned that the post-2015 world would be marked by a bulging youth population, inequalities, climate change-related catastrophes, and a major demand in social services, particularly in least developed countries. To meet such challenges, he urged the international community to establish a clear link between human rights and achievement of the sustainable development goals. Further, it should invest in adolescents and young people as a precondition for reaping the demographic dividend.

KEUMAYE IGNEGONGBA (Chad) said his country was proud to see tangible outcomes of its policies, consistent with the Cairo action plan. Despite progress, thanks to all of its partners, maternal mortality rates remained high. The Government, therefore, had revised national legislation to improve maternal health and to prevent early marriage and female genital mutilation. Population development was a priority for Chad as the growth rate was at 3.5 per cent. In the face of all challenges, he acknowledged Chad’s need to develop better strategies to fully achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.

ABDOULIE BAH (Gambia), associating with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said that population issues were high on the country’s development agenda, which included reproductive health policies for women and youth and a National Youth Policy and Action Plan that coordinated initiatives to harness that demographic dividend. In that connection, it was aimed at ensuring youth employability and productivity and exposing them to adequate sexual reproductive health issues in a youth-friendly environment. The Government had ensured the enrolment and retention of girls in school, which also impacted early marriage and fertility. On the political front, he noted that Gambia had the longest serving woman Vice President in Africa and that women headed several key ministries. The Government’s sound agricultural policies had halved hunger and under-nourishment from 13.3 per cent in 1990-1992 to 6 per cent in 2014. Among remaining challenges were the increasing population growth rate, unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted infections. Noting the funding gap for integrating population issues into sustainable development, he called on all development partners to increase the “resource envelope”.

KASSOUM BIKIENGA (Burkina Faso), associating with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said his country had achieved sustained economic growth — an average of 6 per cent per year since 2000. It had reduced maternal and infant mortality, as well as mortality of children under the age of five. Also, it had improved access to health care. His Government had adopted a law on nutrition and a specific law for the provision of contraceptives. It had promoted gender equality. In particular, it had adopted a criminal code that treated female genital mutilation as a crime and had taken measures to prevent violence against women and girls. Despite such progress, he said much remained to be done. For that reason his country was committed to the joint Africa position on the post-2015 development agenda. The international community must step-up its efforts to achieve its population and development objectives.

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said that addressing core population and development issues was made more difficult by new demographic challenges arising from growing environmental pressures. Those included the impacts of climate change and the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters that might accompany that, all of which could undo decades of development in a day. Because some villages in Fiji had become less inhabitable, populations had to be relocated, and more relocations were planned. The only path towards sustainable lives for his people would come from meaningful solutions. In that regard, he looked forward to the Paris Conference in December coupled with honest implementation of the sustainable development goals. While the country’s 2013 Constitution had firm provisions enshrining a broad range of civil, political and socioeconomic rights, their realization required the international community’s support. He also stressed the importance of including timely and appropriately disaggregated and verified data from the region in the design of evidence-based programmes and development planning. Gathering that information also required resources, and to that end, he urged cooperation between Governments, relevant United Nations agencies and other stakeholders.

NOELISOA RAHAINGOARIMANANA (Madagascar) said her country had been experiencing positive developments regarding the integration of population issues into sustainable development. Madagascar’s new constitutional order had made sure that development was at the forefront and that population issues factored into the national action plan. To make progress, her country’s approach was to include all parties in the national discussions, including women and youth representatives. She reiterated Madagascar’s commitment to the post-2015 development agenda.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), associating with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, highlighted actions by his Government in health, education and women’s empowerment, to name a few, in the quest to attain the Cairo goals. It also had adopted measures to reduce gender inequality and increase the rate of schooling. It had made significant progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals; however, the pattern of achievement remained uneven among different socioeconomic groups across the country. It had adopted a development vision up to 2035 as well as instruments to boost the economy and support job creation for women and to eliminate food insecurity. It was endeavouring to combat infant maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS. At the same time, terrorist groups had increased the number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the country, which strained existing infrastructure and was the root of many conflicts. That was putting more vulnerable groups, such as women and children, at greater risk. Maternal and infant mortality was still high. Today more than ever, efforts must be accelerated to achieve progress and help the people of Cameroon benefit from development. Also important was to build resilience, and he appealed to development partners for help, including to meet the needs of young people.

DINH HUY DUONG (Viet Nam) said that in the past 20 years, his country had made big progress in integrating population issues into sustainable development. Acknowledging the achievements of the Cairo Conference and its regional conferences, he underlined that responding to the new challenges, including changing population dynamics, required coordinated action. For its part, Viet Nam had developed a national strategic plan, which enabled all women, adolescents and young people, including those that were marginalized and in vulnerable situations, to have universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. He reaffirmed the importance of partnerships among key stakeholders, and called on Governments to accord high priority to sexual and reproductive health and rights as an integral part of national health plans and public budgets.

JUSTIN SAIDI (Malawi) said his country would continue to build on successes it had achieved and integrate the Cairo Programme and post-2015 development agenda into its national development plans. In particular, it would continue to develop and strengthen effective and coherent national strategies focused on the marginalized and disadvantaged groups. It would also continue to strengthen the capacity of national institutions and partners to generate, analyze and use population data disaggregated by age and sex. Additionally, it would seek to increase and sustain investments in education for girls. To eradicate gender-based violence, it would aim to adopt and implement legislation and policies to prevent and punish violence within and outside the family. Citing other efforts, he reaffirmed his country’s support of the Cairo Programme’s implementation beyond 2014 and integration of population issues into sustainable development.

RAMADHAN MWINYI (United Republic of Tanzania) reiterated his country’s commitment to the unfinished Cairo agenda and expressed support for the new sustainable development agenda. This year was an exciting one as the world would define a consensual post-2015 development agenda. His Government aimed to implement its Development Vision 2025 to address population and development challenges and to become classified as a middle-income country. Like other countries in Africa, his was experiencing a youth bulge, with youth comprising 65 per cent of the population. It was, therefore, a unique opportunity for his country and the region to unlock young people’s potential. Concluding, he called on all countries to reaffirm their commitments to the implementation of the Cairo plan and share best practices regarding population matters.

Mr. ALWAHAB (Saudi Arabia), associating the Group of 77 and China and the Arab Group, said his country had prioritized the family as it was the main unit responsible for the protection and education of the child. Its investments in women and girls had had a cumulative effect in developing their skills and facilitating an inclusive economy. In light of the importance of young people in development, his Government had focused on their needs. It also had integrated the post-2015 development programme into its national strategy. Concerned with illegal migration, he called attention to its negative impact on development policies affecting society as a whole. In that regard, he said studies must be carried out to review the challenges that arose from refugee flows.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said the Government had prioritized social development and implemented social initiatives in the areas of food, health, housing and education. In the area of health, the Government’s policies had brought significant progress in sexual and reproductive health education. Noting Venezuela’s commitment to social inclusion and participation, he said that the country prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and promoted equal rights. Finally, he said that the post-2015 development agenda must respect and reflect State sovereignty over natural resources.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said emphasis on population growth impeded development and led to inordinate attention on issues that found no universal agreement. It also decreased the focus on crucial, consensus-driven solutions. It would be better to avoid the imposition of policies and subtle forms of coercion that did not respect the value systems of peoples and societies. In developing countries where populations were growing economies were often growing too. The challenge was not so much population growth, but the crafting of policies and programmes that stimulated employment, ensured investment in basic public services, and encouraged the transfer of technologies needed by the developing world. Noting that declining fertility and mortality rates in developed countries had increased the burden on social safety nets and health services, he said it was critical to have increased levels of social protection coverage, as well as policies that were sensitive and supportive of the family.

ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, said the international community needed to give attention to the population trends caused by conflicts, natural disasters, and migratory flows. While the post-2015 sustainable development goals were, in principle, of global reach, the number of refugees and displaced persons was growing. According to his Foreign Affairs Minister, the number of Israeli immigrants in the Palestinian Territory had increased over the years, reaching nearly 8.2 million people. While any Jewish person could go back to Palestine, the Israeli Government did not recognize Palestinian refugees' right to return, and it occupied remaining Palestinian territory.

JOE THOMAS, Partners in Population and Development, said emerging challenges post-Cairo were especially daunting. The world needed to prepare for a larger population. By 2030, the global economy would need to support approximately 8.4 billion people. Preparing for the next 2 billion newborns would challenge countries’ ability to provide access to high-quality health-care services, especially for women and children. Preparing for a larger number of older persons was another challenge many developing countries faced. A rapid growth in the number of older persons was expected in the next 15 years. That phenomenon raised questions about the well-being of the elderly, their economic security, health and support networks, as well as protection of their rights. Also, increasingly large numbers of people would be moving to urban areas, similarly raising issues of security, rights and basic services. His organization was taking specific initiatives, including through its intergovernmental platform, to secure the collective commitment of its member countries to address those and other challenges.

ENAS MOUSTAFA MOHAMED ELFERGANY, League of Arab States, said the post-2015 development agenda required a special focus on changing population dynamics caused by the migration of war victims, displaced persons, and human trafficking. Turning to the situation in the Middle East, he said that the Palestinian refugees’ human security had been challenged, and there was a pressing need to ensure their rights. Making progress required a concerted effort that took into account the development needs of people in the region.

AMIERAH ISMAIL, observer for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said its Department of Social and Family Affairs had suggested a resolution by the organization on safeguarding the well-being and social security of the elderly and people with special needs in the Muslim world. That resolution had been proposed for adoption in the next OIC Conference of Foreign Ministers to be held in May in Kuwait. On youth, she said the Social and Family Affairs Department was working closely with relevant OIC institutions, as well as national and societal institutions, to initiate and implement plans for capacity-building in the region. Turning to children, she said the OIC had also been working closely with ministries and institutions, as well as with non-governmental organizations and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to ensure their well-being in OIC member States.

RABEE JAWHARA (Syria) said his country was going through tough times, given the current security issues. It was unfortunate that terrorism in certain States was affecting Syria. Syrian women and children were suffering from extremism and forced marriages, maternal mortality was unacceptably high, and access to health services needed improvement. While the Government had been working hard to protect its citizens, it was essential and urgent to get assistance from its national and international partners.

SRINIVAS TATA, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said countries of the region were in different stages of demographic transition, but across the region, population ageing was rapid. Indeed, he said, the region was ageing faster than it was getting rich. He went on to enumerate policy options; among them was to include population issues in development planning. That would help countries with large working-age populations, such as China and Viet Nam, to realize a demographic dividend by putting appropriate measures in place. Good quality data, collected regularly and in a timely matter, was the foundation of effective development planning and needed more attention. To harness the demographic dividend, adequate youth policies promoting employment, education completion and curriculums adapted to the labour market were needed. Adequate social security systems should also be put in place as well as strengthened health systems for those countries with ageing populations. Also important, particularly for countries with high fertility rates, was to improve access to family planning, empower women and expand their education.

TAKYIWAA MANUH, Economic Commission for Africa, said that in the not-so- distant future, urban populations in Africa would triple. That tremendous population increase would have important consequences since up to two thirds of urban-area inhabitants already did not have running water, decent sewage, sanitation, housing or adequate transportation networks. Migration, both internally and internationally, was also expected to surge due to improved regional integration, transportation, infrastructure and trade, among other things. To effect a structural transformation while leveraging population dynamics, she said linkages between planning, mobilizing, and financing must be strengthened. Domestic resources must also be mobilized as official development assistance (ODA), while necessary, was a fragile platform on which to base Africa’s agenda. Critical too was high-quality statistical information to facilitate a “data revolution” in Africa and enable proper planning and better measurement of development outcomes. African people must be mobilized to support the integration of population issues in the continent’s development agenda.

RICHARD WRIGHT, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), noted that about 5.2 million Palestine refugees — roughly the population of Norway — were registered with the Agency. He expressed concern that displaced persons might slip through the cracks of the intergovernmental process, as it appeared unlikely that goals, targets or conflict-related displacement indicators would be adopted. Notwithstanding UNRWA’s need to provide increased emergency assistance to Palestine refugees from the impact of conflicts in Syria and Gaza, that refugee population was growing by 3 per cent per year, leading to greater demand for Agency services. Furthermore, roughly 20 per cent of the population were aged 15 to 24 and were among the poorest in UNRWA’s five fields of operation. At the same time, those young people constituted the largest source of potential to address the region’s poverty. Large numbers of Palestine refugees faced constant insecurity and had been dispossessed not once as refugees, but multiple times. UNRWA was thus confronted with a wide array of population challenges as it sought to ensure that the Palestine refugee community could make a positive contribution to community stabilization.

KARIMA EL KORRI, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said the post-2015 framework as proposed by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals was not only an essential tool for achieving the future sought by the international community, but also represented a unique opportunity for the implementation of the Cairo Programme. Yet despite the agenda’s comprehensive nature, important population issues of Member States were not explicitly included. ESCWA had taken an active role in preparing Arab countries for negotiations at the global level and converging perspectives towards a shared regional position on the proposed goals. During those negotiations, there had been an unprecedented forced displacement as a result of ongoing crises, notably in Syria, but also in Libya and Iraq and, most recently, in Yemen. The post-2015 framework must have, at its core, population dimensions that reflected the conditions, situation and empirical reality of the Arab region. To help fulfil the aspirations of the people and countries of that region, critical population groups such as forced migrants would require special attention.

VINICIUS PINHEIRO, International Labour Organization, noting that almost 74 million young people aged 15-24 were looking for work in 2014, said the youth unemployment rate was practically three times higher than the global average. In that regard, he called for the development and operationalization of a global strategy to remedy that. On the situation of migrant workers, he said more than 200 million worldwide should receive the dignity and respect they deserved. As migration was linked substantially to the quest for productive employment and decent work opportunities, there could be no proper discussion about the issue without due consideration to the need for decent work. Cooperation among Governments and stakeholders was critical in enhancing the mechanisms for the fair governance of labour migration. Also important was to extend social protection floors for all; that was an investment that paid for itself given its multiplying effects on gross domestic product (GDP) growth and tax revenues.

RAJAT KHOSLA, World Health Organization, recognized the crucial role of sexual and reproductive health on the overall health of the populations as well as in sustainable development. Welcoming the Secretary General’s report on integrating population issues into that process, he noted that such issues were central to defining and implementing a post-2015 vision. Accordingly, the experiences of Member States highlighted in the report provided crucial lessons for the realization of equality and development in harmony with nature.

SCOTT FISCHBACH, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund, said maternal mortality and morbidity was an ongoing challenge that must be confronted in the post-2015 agenda. There were an estimated 289,000 maternal deaths in 2013, and many countries would not meet the fifth Millennium Development Goal target of a 75 per cent reduction in maternal mortality. While the problem was enormous, the solution is known. Women’s lives could be saved by improving maternal health care, emergency obstetric care, basic sanitation and clean water, among others. Those measures had helped to lead to a dramatic reduction in maternal mortality in the developed world during the twentieth century. It was not true that legalizing or expanding access to abortion was necessary to protect the lives and health of women; maternal health depended on the quality of medical care, not on the legal status or availability of abortion. He urged Member States to address the issue in the developing world and to focus on ensuring healthy reproductive outcomes in the post-2015 development agenda, without calling for the legalization of abortion.

THOMAS LEGRAND, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, said demography should play a central role in measuring and analysing mortality, fertility, migration, and other population and development trends. Demography, he explained, increased the likelihood of success in designing and implementing development plans and policies. Priority must be given to the accurate measurement and estimation of population size, growth and age structure as they related directly to investments in economic growth, environmental sustainability, and migration. Those measures and estimates also provided essential data that would be used in indicators of progress towards the sustainable development goals.

Right of Reply

Israel’s representative, in exercise of the right of reply, said she wished to respond to comments made by certain delegations that chose to criticize Israel rather than advance the rights of their own people. In Bahrain, marital rape was not considered a crime. Women faced systematic discrimination, while migrant workers faced daily expulsion and abuse. Palestine, instead of giving a distorted history lesson, should respect religion. Since Hamas took over in 2007, half of the Christian community had fled. The Palestinian authority and gunmen had seized Christian homes. UNWRA would do well to lessen its advocacy of the Palestinian Authority’s political goals in the post-2015-development agenda. Outstanding issues between Israel and Palestine could only be resolved through direct negotiations.

A representative of the State of Palestine, in exercise of the right of reply, said the Israeli police had been the cause of the expulsion of Palestinians. An Israeli officer, who served for two months in the army, had refused to continue because of Israeli policies. Noting that more than 1 million Israelis were forcibly settled in the Palestinian territories, he said Israeli policies were discriminatory toward the Palestinian people.

The representative of Israel, in a further intervention, said the observer of the State of Palestine had not stated new facts and had made the same accusations without verified data.

The representative of Syria, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that lives were destroyed by terrorism inflicted on Palestinian refugees. The suffering of all Palestinians would stop when Israel finally respected international law.

Again exercising the right of reply, the representative of the State of Palestine said he himself was a refugee. Noting that his family had been living in Gaza, he said he had not been allowed to visit his own family for 15 years.

For information media. Not an official record.