General Assembly Adopts Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, as United Nations, International Organization for Migration Sign Key Agreement
General Assembly Plenary
Seventy-first Session, 3rd to 7th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)
We’re Living on Edge of Hell, World Leaders Told as Speakers Demand Action
The General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants today, thereby mapping a route towards a collective, rights-based response to record displacement numbers around the world.
As outlined in the Declaration (document A/71/L.1), such a response would be of key importance in providing burgeoning numbers of refugees and migrants with desperately needed assistance. The Declaration recognized that in 2015 alone, the number of migrants had surpassed 244 million, in addition to roughly 65 million forcibly displaced persons, including more than 21 million refugees, 3 million asylum seekers and over 40 million internally displaced persons.
In endorsing the 90-paragraph Declaration, Member States agreed to a set of commitments, among them acknowledging a shared responsibility to manage large movements of refugees and migrants in a humane, sensitive, compassionate and people-centred manner. They agreed to do so through international cooperation, while recognizing the varying national capacities and resources in responding to those movements.
Also by the Declaration, the Assembly underlined the importance of working collectively and, in particular, with origin, transit and destination countries, noting that “win-win” cooperation in that area would have profound benefits for humanity. The declaration’s two annexes outlined a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, as well as a comprehensive refugee response framework.
Describing the grim situation of people who were both stateless and stuck, Mohammed Badran of the organization Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands, declared: “We are living on the edge of hell.” Every day brought anger and fear directed at refugees, and many doors were closed while the international community continued its inaction as crisis followed crisis. “We have been waiting for so long for the day that the world would hear our voice,” he said. “Refugees are already taking action; we want world leaders to do the same.” He expressed hope that actions would be taken to keep refugees from having to put their lives on hold.
Elaborating on that point, Eni Lestari Andayani Adi, Chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance, said: “We are the people who have been denied the future, the rights and the dreams we used to imagine.” Noting that poverty in Indonesia had caused her to seek domestic work abroad, she said that for the majority of migrant workers, the promise of a better future was a lie, often ending in exploitation. She called for a “real and actionable” global compact on migration, based on rights and intent on reducing displacement, resolving conflict and ending the root causes of poverty. “Let’s work for a world without vulnerability, insecurity or invisibility,” she added.
Nadia Murad Basee Taha, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, shared her perspective as a refugee who had fled from areas controlled by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). Describing herself as a survivor of the Yazidi genocide, she recalled that when Da’esh had attacked, they had killed men and enslaved women. “I wished that the rapes I endured by 12 terrorists were 12 bullets in my flesh,” she said. “We have to address the causes of immigration, eradicate terrorism and stop instability.” Until security was established in conflict areas, the international community must keep borders open to innocent women and children, she said, declaring: “The world has only one border; it is called humanity.”
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights, reflected on the reasons behind convening today’s meeting, saying “the bitter truth is, this summit was called because we have been largely failing”. The summit “cannot be reduced to speeches and feel-good interviews”, he said, emphasizing the urgent need for action.
To foster such action, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a new global campaign called “Together — Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”. He urged States to join the campaign and commit to concrete steps in that direction. “Today’s summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility,” he said, adding that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was advancing the same principles as the Declaration, with the common goal of leaving no one behind.
Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the seventy-first session of the General Assembly, expressed hope that the new campaign would help to overcome the hostile and hateful rhetoric that some refugees and migrants were facing. “The well-being of millions rests with us at the United Nations,” he said. “We must not fail them in their hour of need.”
Echoing that message, Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark), President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly, said “the desperation and suffering of people in flight tugs at our collective conscience and compels us all to act compassionately to forge a global response to what is clearly a global challenge”.
Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, said the Group had increased funding for refugees, bolstered data collection and helped the job-creation efforts of host countries. Much was riding on the summit because the outcome would have a bearing upon everyone’s future, he said.
Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees, called upon Member States to take the necessary steps to make all efforts to work, emphasizing that “we are looking at you”.
Also during the opening segment, Secretary-General Ban and Director General William Lacy Swing signed the United Nations-International Organization for Migration (IOM) Agreement.
Throughout the day, almost 200 Heads of State and Government, senior officials, representatives and observers agreed that countries must together embrace a robust action plan to address the needs of refugees and migrants and fight against the xenophobia they faced.
Also delivering statements during the opening segment were: Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), on behalf of the Global Migration Group; Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA.
During the day, Heads of State and Government chaired six round tables covering the following issues: “addressing the root causes of large movements of refugees”; “addressing drivers of migration, particularly large movements, and highlighting the positive contributions of migrants”; “international action and cooperation on refugees and migrants and issues related to displacement: the way ahead”; “global compact for responsibility sharing for refugees; respect for international law”; “global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration: towards realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving full respect for the human rights of migrants”; and “addressing vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants on their journeys from their countries of origin to their countries of arrival”.
Participating in the plenary discussion were Heads of State and Government, as well as other senior officials, representing the following countries: Finland, Mozambique, Latvia, Brazil, China, Cyprus, Estonia, Kenya, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Guyana, Malta, Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Indonesia,, Denmark, Greece, Georgia, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Malaysia, Kuwait, Colombia, Jordan, Ghana, Italy, Cameroon, Ecuador, Liechtenstein, Hungary, France, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Iceland, Gambia, Haiti, Malawi, Guinea, Ireland, El Salvador, Germany, Congo, Mali, Croatia, Canada, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Botswana, Chile, New Zealand, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Morocco, Honduras, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Guatemala, India, Iran, Eritrea, Cuba, Czech Republic, Iraq, Peru, Slovakia, Nigeria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Niger, South Africa, Slovenia, Poland, Nauru, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Paraguay, Andorra, Ukraine, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Panama, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Thailand, Australia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Yemen, Turkey, Uganda, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Belarus, Seychelles, Namibia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Argentina, Somalia, United States, Netherlands, Serbia, Zambia, Uruguay, Romania, Sudan, Armenia, Syria and Tunisia.
Also participating were the delegations of the European Union, the State of Palestine and the Holy See.
Representatives of the International Olympic Committee, Council of Europe, Sovereign Order of Malta, League of Arab States, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Inter-Parliamentary Union, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, International Development Law Organization, INTERPOL, African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, International Committee of the Red Cross, International Centre for Migration Policy Development, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, Partners in Population and Development, Union of South American Nations and the University for Peace also spoke today.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the seventy-first session of the General Assembly, provided a snapshot of the dire needs of refugees and the hostile and hateful rhetoric some of them faced, emphasizing the particular vulnerability of girls and women. Expressing hope that the new campaign to counter xenophobia would help to overcome that negativity, he urged all people to recognize the positive contributions of migrants. Describing the New York Declaration as an important step forward, he urged all Member States to swiftly implement their commitments. In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had ushered in a new transformative framework, and through the collective pledge to leave no one behind, the most vulnerable would be reached. “We must ensure the needs of refugees and migrants are not overlooked,” he said, emphasizing that the principal goal of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session would be a universal push to implement all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The session would also take forward the membership’s commitment under the New York Declaration to begin the process leading to global compacts on migration and on refugees. He added that he would begin to engage with delegates on preparations for a successful intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018. “The well-being of millions rests with us at the United Nations,” he said. “We must not fail them in their hour of need.”
MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly, said “the desperation and suffering of people in flight tugs at our collective conscience, and compels us all to act compassionately to forge a global response to what is clearly a global challenge”. Noting that some countries were disproportionately carrying the weight of what should be a shared responsibility, he emphasized that all must do their part and that funding gaps must be filled. The New York Declaration to be adopted later today reflected the collective commitment of the international community to protect the rights of all people, regardless of their status, to strengthen support for countries most affected by the crisis, to boost humanitarian assistance, and in general, to enhance international cooperation on migration. Calling on all partners to support implementation of the Declaration’s commitments, he also welcomed the Secretary-General’s campaign to counter xenophobia and intolerance. “In the face of a changing world, it is vital that we do not give in to fear, but that we strive to maintain our principles and common humanity.”
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “today’s summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility”. More people than ever were on the move, some fleeing war, others seeking opportunity. “Refugees and migrants are not to be seen as a burden; they offer great potential, if only we unlock it,” he said. He emphasized that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development advanced the Declaration’s goals, which focused on protecting the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of their status, increasing support for the hardest-hit countries, assisting people in protracted crises, ensuring that children were educated, improving search-and-rescue operations, boosting humanitarian funding and resettling refugees. “We must change the way we talk about refugees and migrants,” he emphasized. “And we must talk with them. Our words and dialogue matter.” Announcing the launch of a new campaign called “Together — Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”, he called on world leaders to commit together to upholding the rights and dignity of everyone forced by circumstance to flee their homes in search of a better life. “Acting together, we can respond to rising xenophobia and turn fear into hope,” he said. “This summit shows that we can find common ground. But, the summit will have real meaning only if we all honour the promises made here today. With courageous actions to implement the New York Declaration, we will ensure that no refugee or migrant is left behind.”
JIM YONG KIM, President of the World Bank Group, said that, in addition to increasing funding for refugees, the Group was dramatically increasing its data collection on migrants and had found, for example, that early intervention could have great impact since half the number of existing refugees had been in their current situation for less than four years. Among other efforts, the World Bank Group was helping host countries to improve the business climate with the aim of creating jobs, and was looking for longer-term solutions such as increased agricultural output in areas where refugees had settled. Much was riding on the summit as the outcome would have a bearing on everyone’s future, he said.
FILIPPO GRANDI, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, describing listening to refugees as a “sobering experience”, called attention to the growing number of displaced people around the world, emphasizing that the summit could not be more urgent. “It is important that we talk about both refugees and migrants, and join forces,” he said. Fear of persecution meant that refugees could not go home, and the summit was therefore an extraordinary opportunity to “change the gear” which would require the participation of all stakeholders. The New York Declaration marked a political commitment and filled a gap in the international system, he said. Invoking the spirit of the United Nations Charter, he stressed the need for predicable cooperative arrangements before crises arose. Citing an example, he said Uganda had an open-door policy on migrants and mobilized international partners in an innovative way. Development partners and international financial institutions had an important role to play, but in order for all efforts to work, “we are looking at you”, he said, urging Member States to take concrete steps.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Director-General William Lacy Swing then signed the United Nations-International Organization for Migration Agreement.
WILLIAM LACY SWING, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said three elements had made the landmark agreement possible: global trends, trust and timing. Migration was driven by factors including demography, disasters, the digital revolution, technology, North-South disparities and environmental degradation, and was indeed a priority for all Governments. The world also faced an unprecedented series of simultaneous, complex and protracted crises and humanitarian emergencies. Meanwhile, wide-spread and growing anti-migrant sentiment and policies had led to the cruel irony that those fleeing terror and conflict were themselves being accused of terrorism and criminality. Outlining IOM’s approach, he said migration was inevitable owing to those drivers, necessary if economies and societies were to flourish and desirable if policies were responsible and humane. “To do so will require changing the toxic migration narrative and learning to manage cultural, ethnic and religious diversity,” he emphasized. Citing the 2030 Agenda, the Sendai Disaster Risk Reduction Framework and the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said: “If IOM is to fulfil its mandate to assist and protect migrants, we have to be in these new processes and this is most effectively done by entering the United Nations system.” Since its birth in 1951 — to bring Europeans ravaged by the Second World War to safe shores and new lives — the IOM had collaborated closely with the United Nations. “The positive nature of the Agreement underscores that migration is not so much an issue to be addressed or a crisis to be solved as it is a human reality to be managed,” he said. “If we accept this reality, the Summit and the process leading to a global compact can be a defining moment for human mobility.”
ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, acknowledged efforts to achieve political consensus, but emphasized: “This summit cannot be reduced to speeches and feel-good interviews, a dash of self-congratulation and we move on.” There was no cause for comfort when millions of people only saw freedom’s invitation through the flapping canvas of a tent, when they risked drowning and when they were kept in cramped conditions in appalling detention centres. “The bitter truth is, this summit was called because we have been largely failing,” he said, calling attention to the plight of the long-suffering people of Syria and others in conflict zones. It was shameful that victims of abominable crimes should be made to suffer further by the international community’s failure to give them protection. The international community could change that at the summit, he said. However, it would not be possible when the defenders of what was right and good were outflanked in too many countries by race-baiting bigots at the expense of the most vulnerable, he warned. Many seemed to have forgotten the two world wars, he said, asking what would happen when fear and anger were stoked by half-truths and outright lies. The bigots and deceivers, in opposing greater responsibility-sharing, promoted rupture, and some of them might be in the General Assembly Hall, he said. “If you are here, we say to you: We will continue to name you publicly,” he said, adding: “You may soon walk away from this Hall, but not from the broader judgement of ‘we the people’ and the world’s people.”
JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, read out a statement by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on International Migration, saying the ability to protect refugees was a “barometer” indicating the effectiveness of international institutions. Unfortunately, responsibility had often been passed to those closest to the crisis, he said, emphasizing: “Let today be the turning point.” The Office of the Special Representative would soon submit plans for strengthening the ability of the United Nations to coordinate adequate and equitable support to refugees and other migrants, he said, calling for the soonest possible development and adoption of global compacts on migration and refugees.
PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), speaking also on behalf of the Global Migration Group, noted its growth as it reached its tenth anniversary. The Group stood ready to support Member States, within the framework of the new development agenda, in implementing their existing commitments, as well as those made today through the New York Declaration. Its members were working to develop tools and guidance on many issues covered in the Declaration, and they would be on the Group’s website once finalized. Describing the Group’s approach as people-centred, human-rights-based and gender-responsive, she said it recognized, in particular, the cultural and economic value that women and girl migrants contributed to societies as well as the importance of specific national policies to protect and safeguard their rights, which were often grossly violated.
YURY FEDOTOV, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the international community could not allow criminals to exploit the biggest refugee crisis as a business opportunity. Welcoming the Declaration’s recognition that refugees and migrants in large movements were at risk, and that States must combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling, he said: “It is, most of all, a question of respect.” Every single person on the move was entitled to protection, he said. Criminal law obliged States to investigate and prosecute crimes, as well as to protect the rights of victims. To date, 156 countries had made human trafficking a specific criminal offence, and while implementation remained a challenge, 142 countries had committed to stopping migrant smuggling. “For justice to be done, we need States to respect their own law,” he emphasized.
MATS GRANRYD, Director-General of GSMA, said the organization represented the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem. Mobile operators provided several services critical to development, and as millions of people continued to face marginalization, mobile technology provided a lifeline by ensuring access to information. GSMA had built charging facilities and Wi-Fi access points for refugees, he said, adding that mobile technology was at the heart of humanitarian response. It could help people in times of disasters and crisis, and with its unique scale and reaching ability, the mobile industry could help to address the current displacement crisis. However, nobody could end the problem alone, he said, emphasizing the need for sustainable partnership towards a better future for all.
ENI LESTARI ANDAYANI ADI, Chairperson, International Migrants Alliance, said she was honoured to represent the world’s migrants after years of their having been voiceless and invisible. “We are the people who have been denied the future, the rights and the dreams we used to imagine,” she stated. Noting that poverty in Indonesia had caused her to seek domestic work abroad, she said that for the majority of migrant workers, the promise of a better future was a lie. Many were trapped in debt bondage, trafficking or slavery, their rights denied and their vulnerabilities exploited, she said. “Our dream has become a nightmare.” Imploring the international community to work with migrants in improving the situation, she said: “You want us to remit, but what we need is for you to commit — to justice, to development that does not tear families apart and to a future that relies on the strength of its people, not to the continued export and exploitation of labour.” She called for the global compact on migration to be “real and actionable”, to be based on rights and intent on reducing displacement, resolving conflict and ending the root causes of poverty. “Let’s work for a world without vulnerability, insecurity or invisibility.”
MOHAMMED BADRAN of Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands described the situation of refugees who were stateless and stuck. “We are living on the edge of hell,” he said. “We have been waiting for so long for the day that the world would hear our voice. I hope it is today.” He said that, in the Netherlands, he faced anger and fear directed at refugees every day, and many doors were closed. Meanwhile, the international community continued its inaction as crisis followed crisis. Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands had grown into a network of more than 600 volunteers, devoting the energy of youth to helping host communities and the ones left behind. Today’s summit should reach agreement on action to end violence, guarantee safe routes for all refugees, empower refugees to lead self-help projects, provide access to higher education for all young refugees, and to keep them from having to put their lives on hold. “Refugees are already taking action; we want world leaders to do the same,” he declared.
NADIA MURAD BASEE TAHA, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, described herself as a survivor of the Yazidi genocide, now a refugee, who had found herself ripped from her free life under the rule of so-called Islamic State. When Da’esh had attacked, they had killed men and enslaved women, she recalled, saying she wished that she had died before that had happened. “I wished that the rapes I endured by 12 terrorists were 12 bullets in my flesh,” she said. “We have to address the causes of immigration, eradicate terrorism and stop instability,” she emphasized, calling upon the international community to end wars and put humanity first. Describing terrorists and extremists, especially Islamic State, as the reason for the displacement of millions from their homes, she stressed that terrorism was attempting to end human civilization. Until security was established in conflict areas, the international community must keep borders open to innocent women and children, she said, declaring: “The world has only one border; it is called humanity.”
SAULI NIINISTÖ, President of Finland, said more than 30,000 people were forcibly displaced every day, most of them by man-made conflicts. There were ever-increasing humanitarian needs, yet the funding gap stood at $13.3 billion. Emphasizing the need to protect the rights of people fleeing conflict, he said refugee and migrant women and children were disproportionately affected when caught in uncontrolled migratory movements, with many suffering trafficking. Their rights must be respected in all settings, and persons with disabilities should also be included in such humanitarian action. “We have only seen the beginning of this phenomenon,” he said, stressing the need to manage migratory flows and to address their root causes, notably by increasing efforts to resolve conflicts and facilitate the safe and voluntary return of refugees. “We need sustainable peace and economic growth,” he said, expressing support for orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration. While States were working to address the drivers of irregular migration, Finland recognized that mobility could boost economic growth and reduce poverty, he said, calling on States to implement the 2030 Agenda in that context.
FILIPE JACINTO NYUSI, President of Mozambique, said that his country mainly hosted refugees and migrants from Africa. It was their country of choice due to its geographic location, political stability, safety and suitable policies. “Refugees and migration cannot be disassociated from development, as migration is a source of cultural and social enrichment for hosting countries,” he emphasized.
RAIMONDS VĒJONIS, President of Latvia, said that the scale of the global migration crisis was among the highest humanitarian concerns, requiring political will and resources on the part of all parties. Global responsibility must be regarded as an underlying principle of the commitments made today, with a focus on greater efforts to protect refugees, support for those hosting them and the development of safe reception capacities close to their home countries. Latvia was working with European Union States to implement a common European Union policy on resettlement and humanitarian admission, he said. Latvia was mindful that countries could not address migration challenges on their own, and would continue to support efforts to strengthen the United Nations refugee response systems, ensuring legal entry options for those in need of international protection. At the same time, countries needed mechanisms to fight abuse, he said. Regular, safe and orderly migration could only be achieved through a coherent long-term policy framework that addressed the drivers of migration and supported each country’s right to decide whom to admit. While today’s commitments addressed the consequences of migration from the Middle East and North Africa, implementation of the 2030 Agenda would be crucial in addressing its root causes, he said.
MICHEL TEMER, President of Brazil, said the world community had been appalled by images of refugee and migrant children fleeing violence. Noting that today marked the first time that the Assembly had gathered around that important issue, he said “we cannot possibly close our eyes”. He continued: “Let us be clear, the flow of refugees is the result of war and extremism — not their cause.” In relations with foreigners others, all ultimately tested their commitments because immigrants were an essential part of a country’s identity, he said, noting that in the past few years, Brazil had welcomed 95,000 refugees from 17 different countries. This is a shared responsibility, he said, adding that Brazil provided refugees and migrants with access to basic services, even before recognition of their legal rights.
LI KEQIANG, Premier of the State Council of China, said that, while large movements of refugees and migrants affected some regions, it was a global issue and the international community must respond strongly. “We are living in the same global village,” he pointed out. Refugees faced hunger and disease, and some had lost their lives — a shock to the human conscience. Emphasizing that basic moral principles could not be compromised, he said the international community must work to rekindle hope. China supported efforts to forge a comprehensive solution involving the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the IOM, which should play a coordinating role. The principle of non-refoulement must be respected, taking history and specific circumstances into account. Transit and hosting countries must play their role on the basis of their abilities. Noting that conflict, poverty and underdevelopment were among the root causes of migration, he pointed out that, while China had made economic progress, it was still a developing country. Nonetheless, it was committed to shouldering its responsibilities on the basis of its own ability and would provide $1 million in humanitarian assistance, he said, adding that China was also working with developing countries on trilateral cooperation.
NICOS ANASTASIADES, President of Cyprus said the unprecedented refugee crisis has been triggered by ongoing turmoil, sectarianism and violence. Addressing those root causes should be at the core of finding solutions to the crisis. Efforts should be made to transform sustainable development into reality in vulnerable countries, he stressed. In similar vein, economic support should be well targeted and results-oriented in order to address socioeconomic challenge. Cyprus was committed to cooperation with partners the eastern Mediterranean so as to enhance regional peace and security, and to combat human trafficking, he said.
TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES, President of Estonia, recalled that the joint international commitment to act in a spirit of human dignity had existed for decades, helping people to escape war, political or social persecution, as well as poverty. “We need to commit to doing even more, and differently,” he said, emphasizing the need to enhance protection for children. Speaking as a child of refugees, he said there were nearly 50 million refugee and migrant children today. In just 10 years, their numbers had doubled and continued to grow. It was a collective duty to help children gain a foothold, protection, health and education. “In other words, a normal life,” he said. Estonia was working to enhance child-protection and integration measures in European and national legislative frameworks and practices. It had provided computer lessons for children in the refugee camp at Zaatar in Jordan. Estonia’s practical steps addressed the main suggestions outlined in the latest report of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the growing crisis of refugee and migrant children, he said. Tailor-made migration compacts with origin countries, implemented in mutual ownership, would contribute to peaceful resolution of conflict and a better life for everyone.
WILLIAM SAMOEI RUTO, Vice-President of Kenya, said that in spite of economic growth and prosperity, the international community was experiencing an unprecedented flow of refugees and migrants. That demonstrated the failure of the framework for responding to human distress. “As long as we have villages and towns and neighbourhoods that are unsafe, poverty and hunger and migration will be part of humanity,” he said. “How is it that in the twenty-first century a phenomenon that has brought prosperity has also led to persecution?” As a result of its commitments and obligations, Kenyans had shared their home with refugees and migrants, he said, noting that the environment was sometimes fragile. It was essential to stabilize the situation in Somalia, so that the international community could ensure the orderly repatriation of refugees, he said, pointing out, however, that of the $500 million pledged for that cause, only a fraction had been provided so far.
IDRISS DEBY ITNO, President of Chad, said millions of people had been forced to flee conflict and man-made disasters, noting that Africa was a theatre for such tragedies. Chad had welcomed refugees and displaced persons and, after Kenya and Ethiopia, hosted the largest number — more than 750,000 from 2003 to date. There were also 130,000 Chadian refugees from the Central African Republic awaiting return. Besides the crisis in Darfur, Chad also dealt with thousands of victims of atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram and was working with its partners on a humanitarian response plan based on saving lives, strengthening resilience and analysing risks, he said, adding that the Government had earmarked $500 million for that purpose. More than 600,000 had been displaced in the region, he said, pointing out the lack of access to drinking water and sanitation facilities. Chad would like to see an international response to address the crisis in the Lake Chad region, the causes of which included terrorism, poverty, climate change and instability. “We have to strike at the root of the evil, rather than just staunching the consequences,” which were always so acute in humanitarian terms, he said.
ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI, President of Egypt, emphasized the development aspect of the crisis and urged countries to refrain from closing their borders to migrants and refugees. Egypt hosted 5 million registered and non-registered refugees and asylum seekers, despite the national budget being overburdened, he said, calling attention to his country’s efforts to combat illegal migration. There was no way to stop illegal migration, without reaching clear political solutions, he emphasized. “We view with concern alarming displays of xenophobia and the targeting of minors and refugees by extremist groups,” he said. Egypt aspired to enhance joint cooperation in economic development and to find political solutions that would enable it to continue providing refugees and migrants with decent living standards, he added.
FAYEX MUSTAFA AL-SARRAJ, Chairman, Presidential Council, and Prime Minister, Government of National Accord of Libya, expressed alarm over illegal migration, saying migrants were subjected to death and exploitation by the criminal networks that smuggled them. As a transit country, Libya faced challenges arising from illegal migration. Many migrants lacked identity papers and huge numbers of people risked their lives in the Mediterranean Sea as they tried to reach Europe. Organized criminal networks had exploited the situation and exacerbated instability inside Libya, he said, adding that tackling the problem required regional and international efforts. Underscoring Libya’s readiness to work with the international community to prevent the loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea, in line with the principles of international law and State sovereignty, he said: “We are trying our best to come back into the fold of the international family.” Illegal migration could not be addressed solely by security means; it required efforts by the international community and by other relevant States to improve economic circumstances.
ROSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria, said the international community must find lasting solutions to the many ongoing conflicts around the world. “The effectiveness of border controls is of utmost importance in order to combat irregular migration,” he emphasized. However, there must be a clear distinction between refugees and economic migrants, he said, noting that the latter group was not eligible for refugee status. Bulgaria’s domestic capacity to receive refugees had increased significantly, as had its capacity to provide humanitarian assistance to the countries from which they had originated, he said.
LUIS GUILLERMO SOLÍS RIVERA, President of Costa Rica, underlined the political and moral obligation to contribute proportionately in addressing the issue of migrants and refugees, saying responsibilities should be in accordance with capacities and resources. Coordinated cooperation with origin, transit and destination countries was required in devising a mechanism for preserving the dignity of migrants, he said, noting that children and women were among the most vulnerable and required particular attention. Migrants had contributed to the economy of Costa Rica, and in recent months, it had become a transit country for many people, including Haitians, seeking better living standards. The intensity of migrant and refugee flows required that Costa Rica earmark its scarce resources to help them, he said, stressing the need to address the specific needs of migrant women. The Government had adopted the San José Declaration to address mixed migratory movements, including the forced displacement of people fleeing violent organized crime in North and Central America, he said.
ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO, President of Mexico, emphasized that “migrants’ contributions to societies are undeniable”. He went on to outline seven principles that should guide international efforts to deal with the current crisis: applying a human rights approach; developing a vision for shared responsibility; recognizing the contributions made by migrants; ensuring social inclusion to eradicate intolerance; developing a framework for the safe and orderly management of migratory flows; forging greater international cooperation; and considering climate change and other natural phenomena as causes of migration.
DAVID ARTHUR GRANGER, President of Guyana, said the refugee and migrant crisis represented a grave challenge. “The international community can no longer ignore the plight of these desperate refugees and migrants,” he said, noting that the situation demanded a commitment to addressing both the causes and consequences of the crisis. Conflicts within and between States were mainly responsible for most mass movements of people, and if left unresolved, they could escalate into regional and global crises. Among others, natural disasters were a cause of migration and refugee crises, he said, calling upon the international community not to ignore their impacts. Recalling the devastation and destruction caused by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, he emphasized that swift humanitarian support must be complemented by political action.
JOSEPH MUSCAT, Prime Minister of Malta, said his country had received a high number of asylum applications arising from the crisis in the Mediterranean. As such, migration was a core area of Malta’s foreign policy. As a European Union member, Malta subscribed to the plan to relocate asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, convinced that managing Europe’s external borders was a collective effort and must be based on shared responsibility, mutual trust and solidarity. Today’s challenge required collective action, long-term strategies and comprehensive approaches, he said. Actions to protect the most vulnerable and curb migrant smugglers — who were criminals and should be treated as such — should guide all efforts. More support to origin, transit and destination countries was also needed. Noting that migration was intertwined with trafficking and smuggling, he called for enhancing national programmes and international cooperation in that regard. It was worth considering bringing people smugglers to justice in international courts, he added. The private sector could help foster opportunities for prospective economic migrants. Noting that the acute situation in Europe had brought the internal and external dimensions of migration to the fore, he said that to stop the loss of life in the Mediterranean, the European Union was working on a new partnership framework seeking to mobilize all policies and tools — as well as third countries — building on progress made at the 2015 Valletta Summit on migration.
ROCH MARC CHRISTIAN KABORÉ, President of Burkina Faso, said that, if welcomed with dignity and humanity, refugees and migrants could contribute significantly to both their host and origin countries. Any management mechanism that did not take that notion into account would fail, he warned. That was why Burkina Faso must strengthen its migration framework at the national, regional and international levels, he said, noting that his country was supporting 33,000 displaced refugees from neighbouring Mali.
TAMMAM SALAM, President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, said the worst crisis of forced population displacement in history posed serious problems for his country’s stability, security, economy and public services. It was unthinkable that Lebanon could cope with that existential challenge alone, he said, emphasizing: “This cannot continue.” Barring a massive international effort, Lebanon risked collapse, he cautioned, appealing to the United Nations to set in motion a plan for the logistical mapping of the return home, in safety and dignity, of Syrians now in Lebanon within three months. Raising the financing should start immediately, he said, adding that such a plan should also establish burden-sharing quotas for countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, and negotiate the enactment of resettlement efforts before year’s end. The plan should also intensify the financing of local and regional development projects, prepare reliable reporting on payments made by donors, and launch fundraising efforts for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). “My country is in serious danger,” he stressed, pointing out that what Lebanon — a country of 4 million — had done in harbouring 1.5 million Syrians was unprecedented. He asked when the United Nations would rally efforts to help refugees, in observance of its duty to safeguard peace and security.
DONALD TUSK, President of the European Union, welcomed the signing of the Declaration, emphasizing that the responsibility for carrying out the work ahead must be shared and that no country would bear the burden alone. The European Union had a clear responsibility to restore order on its external borders in order to further reduce irregular flows into the region. “There will be no repeat of 2015 with more than 1.5 million irregular refugees entering the European Union,” he stressed. The European Union had initiated compacts with Jordan and Lebanon, in exchange for additional funds, as well as new partnerships with African countries. The bloc was also continuing its cooperation with Turkey. “Global migration will accompany us in the future,” he said. “It is, therefore, up to us whether this will be orderly and safe or the opposite.”
MUHAMMAD JUSUF KALLA, Vice-President of Indonesia, said his country had long provided humanitarian aid to refugees and asylum seekers. In 1975, for example, it had taken in more than 250,000 people seeking refuge from Viet Nam. Today, a comprehensive approach was needed to tackle irregular migration, he said, adding that every country was responsible for creating the necessary enabling environment. Describing the Bali process, he said it enabled regional countries to share responsibility in addressing irregular migration. Such challenges were too big for any country or region to handle alone, requiring better international cooperation. At the regional level, he urged the creation of situations more conducive to cooperation, while maintaining security and stability at the national level. He welcomed the road map for the adoption of a compact on safe orderly migration, emphasizing that commitments to ensuring safe migration, outlined in the 2030 Agenda, must be implemented.
LARS LØKKE RASMUSSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark, said the international community must listen to those countries that were under the pressure of hosting refugees and migrants. At the same time, it must operate under an international cooperation framework, and ensure the creation of a mechanism that would help to distinguish between refugees and economic migrants. International conventions protecting refugees covered only those in need of protection, he said, adding that all States had the sovereign right to decide who they wished to admit into their respective territories.
ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister of Greece, described the worst migrant and refugee crisis in decades, saying “either we will manage to face it collectively, comprehensively and on the basis of our values, or we will fail”. Europe was asking itself whether it was possible to preserve social cohesion without violating international law and the Geneva Conventions, he said. Greece, confronted by deep economic crisis, had faced the migration challenge daily for more than a year, notably when 1.2 million migrants had entered the country. It was trying, with help from the European Union and the United Nations, to support the nearly 60,000 migrants stranded there now. Addressing the challenge of hosting the fourth-largest number of asylum applications in Europe, Greece was working with Turkish authorities to implement the European Union-Turkey agreement which had led to a radical decrease in migrant flows, and more importantly, deaths. Greece’s challenges included strengthening border protection and enhancing asylum procedures, he said, adding that such efforts would work only on the basis of shared responsibility and solidarity. “We need the promises made to Greece to be kept,” in addition to strengthened cooperation with origin, transit and destination countries, he said. If there was no agreement in today’s Declaration on replacing dangerous migration routes with legal ones, addressing root causes, or accelerating the resettlement of refugees in host countries, “we will fail”, he cautioned. Worse, space would be created for nationalistic, xenophobic forces. The challenge of humane refugee management was being tested in Greece, he said, warning that if the international community failed to support his country, the social and political repercussions would be felt everywhere.
GIORGI KVIRIKASHVILI, Prime Minister of Georgia, said that, since the early 1990s, Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia had witnessed several waves of ethnic cleansing under occupation by the Russian Federation. Some 400,000 persons were forcibly displaced. Prospects of their safe return remained grim. Meanwhile, ethnic Georgians in the occupied territories continued to suffer from daily discrimination. Despite that, Georgia had already received more than 4,000 asylum seekers from various parts of the world including Syria and Iraq, and would remain committed to continue assisting them in education and financial support. While international organizations had made immense efforts to alleviate the plight of victims, the gravity of the situation required a coordinated political response. “We need to be proactive rather than reactive,” he added, emphasizing the need to prevent escalation of conflict and further waves of displacement. Violation of international law was one of the root causes of conflicts, and therefore, it was critical all actors abide by the law and strictly observe their commitments.
XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said that States must find a way to properly manage migration flows rather than leaving that task in the hands of criminal networks. There were many ways in which countries could contribute and show solidarity, including by hosting migrants and providing human resources support, he added. Each State should contribute in any form it could. “We must not forget that, out of 10 refugees, 8 are from developing countries and they are being hosted by developed nations.” Those migratory flows had furthered xenophobia and populist parties were capitalizing on the language of fear. “We as democrats must have complex answers to simple questions,” while the populists were looking for the quickest way to blame “the other”, he said. “We must ensure that these populists cannot feed on the fear.”
MILO ÐUKANOVIĆ, Prime Minister of Montenegro, said that mechanisms within international organizations must be deployed to address the question of refugees and migrants, a responsibility that must be more evenly shared. Through the years, Montenegro had opened its borders, notably to more than 120,000 refugees, and they now made up one fifth of its population. The country participated in a €28 million regional housing programme, funding housing for 6,000 internally displaced and Roma people. While Montenegro had not been directly affected by today’s migration routes, it had prepared a draft Schengen plan, incorporating plans to control migration and asylum issues. He welcomed the definition of a European Union foreign and security policy framework outlining the bloc’s plans to strengthen relevant agencies, in full adherence to human rights standards and international law. Montenegro underscored the importance of conflict resolution by political means, poverty eradication and enhanced social and political inclusion, he said, voicing support for a global compact on refugees and migrants.
AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, noted that his country had accepted refugees without compromising either its sovereignty or security. Noting that the integration of refugees might take many years in certain cases, which could be a potentially destabilizing factor in host countries, he urged UNHCR to look into its processes for registering refugees. Malaysia had committed to accepting 3,000 refugees, and had so far been able to receive two batches of Syrian refugees, he added.
SABAH KHALED AL HAMAD AL SABAH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, said 244 million people had been refugees in 2015, a figure higher than some international populations. He emphasized the role of the United Nations in creating innovative mechanisms in response to such crises, which arose largely from armed conflict. The international community had not arrived at a unified stance on ending such crises, and Kuwait urged applying international rules in order to realize political solutions that would save lives. The Middle East faced a sensitive situation as a result of local infighting, and migration had had humanitarian, social and cultural repercussions. Cautioning against directing intolerance at refugees and migrants, notably on the basis of race, he emphasized the need to address the situation of Palestinian refugees, who had suffered injustice for seven decades, and urged support for UNRWA. The political declaration on refugees and migrants was an important step on the path to solving the situation, he said.
MARÍA ÁNGELA HOLGUÍN CUÉLLAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said that due to mass immigration to Latin America, the region had faced unimaginable challenges. Refugees were primarily seeking destinations in the developing world, where there was humanitarian aid, but no general consensus which could guide the international community on how to deal with the challenge of large migrant flows. Refugees needed help to stay in their home countries and to refrain from embarking on dangerous journeys. The solution, she pointed out, was international cooperation and actions which were the tools by which the international community could address social, economic and security challenges. “This is a task which in its very nature is impossible to cope with unilaterally,” she underlined.
NASSER JUDEH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and Expatriates Affairs of Jordan, said his country, as co-facilitator of today’s meeting, welcomed the political declaration to be agreed upon. Jordan was the second-largest host of refugees and at the forefront of care for the open-ended results of today’s meeting. It had preserved human dignity for millions of vulnerable people during horrendous abuse. Jordan had been a safe haven for large waves of migrants, he said, stressing the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees to return home as part of a comprehensive solution to the question of Palestine. That question was the main issue of final settlement between Palestinians and Israelis, and the crux of the region’s conflict. Jordan protected the rights of Palestinian refugees. As a host country, it had responsibilities and the international community should help it devise a permanent solution. The budget deficit of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) must be filled. Over the last six years, Jordan had hosted 1.3 million Syrians, 20 per cent of its population, and cooperated with the United Nations to build camps that absorbed 10 per cent of Syrian refugees. It had opened and expanded schools and hospitals and provided protection. His Government had outlined a pioneering programme that linked humanitarian needs with the response to the Syrian crisis. While Jordan appreciated the support it had received, it accounted for 35 per cent of costs of hosting refugees. Jordan must be supported to shoulder its responsibility towards Syrian refugees, he said, noting that the lack of a political solution to the Syrian situation only enhanced feelings of injustice and fed extremist trends. There needed to be a two-track solution based on solidarity and cost-sharing, as well as on addressing the factors that created refugees and migrants.
PROSPER BANI, Minister for the Interior of Ghana, said that his country had long-term experience with internal migration, as well as flows of immigration and emigration. The root cause to much migration in his State was spatial inequalities, he noted, adding that Ghana had joined other countries to increase international cooperation with regard to global migration flows. Ghana had focused on a job solution strategy, in order to maximize productivity for sustainable incomes and livelihoods, he explained, underlining that his country’s national migration policy addressed human rights and safe passage of refugees and guaranteed the right of Ghanaians to migrate.
RAMI HAMDALLAH, Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, said the crisis of Palestinian refugees was among the longest in history and their right to return was guaranteed under international law. Their suffering had begun in 1948 with the forced displacement, which uprooted them from their lands. Since the General Assembly’s division of Palestine and establishment of Israel on its ruins, Palestinians had been stripped of their rights, especially to return to their country. They had been marginalized. It was a moral duty to translate the statements made today to provide migrants and refugees with a dignified life and uphold their rights according to international law. UNRWA was working to meet Palestinians’ needs, especially after the 1967 war, and to improve prospects for their independence. For many, it represented life itself, as the only agency standing by them. The international community was obliged to find solutions to the international crisis. He commended support by Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to Palestinian refugees, whom they had hosted for decades, and urged donors to support UNRWA. “We urge you all to persevere in your support,” he said. Palestinians’ rights and freedoms were crucial to global peace.
MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister of Italy, said that the international community should not only aim to resolve the immediate refugee crisis, but work towards a long-term durable solution. On one hand, all countries had been aware of their obligations to protect vulnerable communities, he pointed out. On the other, those who were fleeing had the right to demand why the international community was not living up to those commitments.
Italy planned to develop a partnership with African countries of origin in order to combat the true causes of migration, identified as primarily demographic and economic inequalities. However, those plans could only produce results in the long-term; “meanwhile, we have to save lives now”, he emphasized.
Italy had been at the forefront of migration flows, he continued, and promoted a resettlement programme aimed at protecting the most vulnerable among the refugee population — women and children — hoping that the country’s humanitarian corridor project could be replicated by other countries. “Let’s give children and women hope, and by giving them hope, we are giving hope to our own future,” he said.
RENÉ EMMANUEL SADI, Minister for Territorial Administration of Cameroon, speaking on behalf of President Paul Biya, said that as a result of the current flow of refugees and migrants, camps or centres had been set up that had not ideally addressed their needs. Today’s meeting should be an opportunity to answer the question of whether or not refugees and migrants were not the “same side of the coin”, with both needing to benefit from Charter rights. Cameroon had a policy of tolerance, with the Government focusing on their basic needs and the population spontaneously providing additional support. Security, nutrition and other needs were being addressed and, moving forward, he asked the international community to help host countries who were sheltering those in distress. Until solutions could be found to internal or external conflict, underdevelopment and climate change consequences, it would be impossible to stop those fleeing their homes to find a better life.
GUILLAUME LONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said the causes of the current crisis reflected an unjust global system and an unequal distribution of wealth and power. In Ecuador, a banking crisis in the 1990s had caused more than 700,000 citizens to leave the country in search of livelihoods, with some becoming victims of illicit trafficking, others experiencing discrimination and many having had their rights violated. Mobility should be a human right, he said, underlining that Ecuadorian migrants were contributing to the national economy while maintaining their right to vote. More than 160,000 refugees, many from Colombia, enjoyed all human rights in Ecuador and were not relegated to camps or centres. Migratory policies in one country had spillover effects in another, he said, pointing out that the United States deported large numbers of Ecuadorians each year. Likewise, deportations of Cuban migrants from the United States had led to a crisis. He hoped today’s meeting would fuel efforts so all States would work jointly to address the needs of all displaced persons.
AURELIA FRICK, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Education and Culture of Liechtenstein, said her country was mitigating the suffering of migrants and refugees by combating the impunity of human rights violators. In situations where mass atrocities had occurred accountability was absolutely critical. Action needed to be taken to end atrocity crimes through the support of the Security Council’s Code of Conduct against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. She also outlined several ways her country was offering assistance, including through education programmes to Syrian refugees in Jordan. Liechtenstein was focused on helping alleviate the burden for Syria’s neighbours. It was participating in refugee resettlement programmes and paying particular attention on integrating refugees and migrants into their new communities. “We try to focus our humanitarian aid to long-term commitment,” she added, outlining how some programmes focused on women’s empowerment.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said that instead of “emotional debates” it was important to focus on common sense and rationale, especially since the movement of refugees and migrants was a security issue. “We have to avoid hypocrisy, debasing and accusing each other,” he said, stressing the need to distinguish between refugees and migrants. “Picking a country where you would like to live is not a fundamental human right,” he said, adding how 400,000 migrants had “overrun” his State, attacked its police and illegally crossed its borders. “We have to help people stay as close to their homes as possible,” he said, emphasizing that the recent migration trends offered an opportunity to send terrorists to other countries. Governments were responsible to provide security for their own citizens, he said, stressing the need to “draw a red line” between bashing Governments who were simply protecting their sovereignty. It was important to stem the flow of migrants and stop traffickers, and to that end, preventive diplomacy was critical.
JEAN-MARC AYRAULT, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, said that refugees above all needed protection. “Given the temptation to step back and isolate we underestimate the power of our voice,” he added. The situation was the most tragic in Syria and the international community’s collective response up until now had been lacking. States must help and set up conditions for return, but “we too can provide hope for them” and “no it is not too late”. He said that “our responsibility is tremendous” and required “us not to close doors to them”. However, the international community had not all fairly responded, he pointed out, urging the need to “throw all our weight in response”. It was not just a matter of preventing people leaving their country, which was contrary to international law. It was important to address the root cause of what was making people move from their homes. That included climate change, conflict and extreme poverty. France would allocate over 1 billion euros to address the crisis in Syria. His State also supported the establishment of a European fund to benefit the poorest African countries. France also contributed to hosting refugees, welcoming more than 30,000 thus far. Those were voluntary, proactive commitments, but France and the international community must take the next step. Resources needed to be allocated to ease the burden of neighbouring countries and the root causes of conflict had to be tackled “head on”.
ABDALLAH ALBERT TOIKEUSSE MABRI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, welcomed today’s summit, as the world had a duty to stand behind refugees and displaced persons. The scale of human displacement required that all countries took a harmonized approach to tackle broad, related challenges, as no State could do so alone. Developing countries that were hosting refugees and displaced persons needed support from the international community. Preventive diplomacy was also needed, as were the promotion of the rule of law and of human rights and efforts to combat poverty. Those challenges must be addressed by all stakeholders. It was only together that new opportunities could be opened up, he said, hoping the Declaration would consider those concerns.
SHINZŌ ABE, Prime Minister of Japan, said the United Nations and its agencies must work together to fulfil the commitments in the New York Declaration. For its part, Japan had rendered assistance to communities worldwide that were hosting Syrian refugees and had coordinated with United Nations agencies in that regard.
Promoting development assistance was the basis of helping refugees become self-sufficient, he continued, citing an example of a job-creation project in Lebanon for young refugees. Such initiatives aimed at seamlessly providing support that, at first, provided emergency funding followed by longer-term development assistance. Going forward, Japan would provide $2.8 billion in financial assistance in the coming three years.
LILJA DÖGG ALFREÐSDÓTTIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, said that the international community could only address the current trends in migration by addressing its root causes. It was critical to eradicate extreme poverty and work to ensure access to opportunity. In the same vein, it was essential to ensure an adequate and just framework for the movement of people. The international community must do a better job in addressing the underlying problems, such as climate change and war. “We must have the political will to end conflicts such as the one being fought in Syria,” she said, adding that the international community could not allow further escalation. The Security Council would remain responsible for prevention and finding a political solution to ongoing conflicts. The Council “needs to act with more unison, more urgency and more concern for ordinary people”, she said. For its part, Iceland had provided $2.4 million to UNHCR and would continue to receive Syrian refugees. She also emphasized the need to include women at the negotiating table.
NENEH MACDOUALL-GAYE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gambia, said migration had been part of the history of human evolution. However, today’s reality had seen a number of root causes for displacement, including conflicts and environmental degradation. Calling on leaders to put aside ideological rivalries and to save their citizens from death and destruction, she said stability and peace were essential. Highlighting that migrants and refugees had inalienable rights, she said efforts to ensure that those liberties were respected required burden-sharing among affected countries. Urging States to contribute to assisting affected countries, she said host Governments needed assistance so that they would be able to better address the needs of migrants and refugees, including reintegration initiatives. The United Nations needed to address the realities of human traffickers, put an end to that practice and focus on collective global action.
PIERROT DELIENNE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Haiti, said the United States was currently populated as a result of both voluntary and involuntary migration, adding that many parts of the world had been populated by that same process. Explaining the political and economic factors behind that process, he said hunger, war, the quest for jobs, hurricanes and earthquakes pushed people to migrate. The world had become a small village and new communication technologies were bringing people closer together. Indeed, migration contributed to the enrichment of culture and civilization. Haiti had been shaped by migration from Europe and Africa as well as the Middle East. In the same vein, Haitian migration to other Caribbean countries continued today. It was important to provide citizens with means and opportunities in their home country, he said, noting that his country faced new economic problems and needed development funding. It needed to enhance growth and improve investment.
JEAN KALILANI, Minister for Gender of Malawi, said the Government continued to ensure that refugees had equal access to social services such as education and health, as well as to economic activities. Malawi had hosted some 1.2 million refugees in the 1970s, but they had all returned home after they had been deemed safe. Malawi offered a peaceful environment in which refugees and migrants could enjoy their fundamental human rights and freedoms. Noting the large influx of migrants and refugees moving from the Middle East into Europe, as well as those migrating from Latin America to North America, she said all those seeking a better life were human beings with rights and must be treated as such.
MAKALE CAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea, said the international community must step up its response by strengthening international instruments, finding funds and ensuring the transparency and political will needed to strengthen the resilience of host countries while ensuring safe returns. A preventive approach would also help to fund development projects for women and young people. However, implementation of such programmes would require support from other partners. Human dignity as well as human rights must “guide our work here” in eradicating racism, xenophobia and exploitation. The situation of women and children was alarming, especially in the Sahel and Sahara belts. Guinea had welcomed a million refugees from neighbouring countries through its policy of integration, and they had been able to return to home voluntarily. That experience demonstrated Guinea’s respect for the international community, human rights and the rule of law, without which no development solution could be successful.
FRANCES FITZGERALD, Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, said the primary causes of migration must be addressed, recalling that in the 1960s, her country’s population had shrunk significantly since the previous century due to widespread poverty that had triggered mass migration. Today, the international community must constantly work together to resolve pressing challenges, including finding legal and safe pathways for migration and with people at the heart of any approach. There was need for a more equitable sharing of responsibilities, particularly for developing countries hosting refugees and migrants. Ireland, for its part, had resettled more than 1,000 people from more than 30 countries, and would be admitting 4,000 more. It had helped to save more than 10,000 lives by sea rescue. She encouraged the international community to adopt multi-year commitments to ensure predictable, sustainable funding. Dialogue and cooperation between origin and transit countries must be strengthened, she said, emphasizing that women must be included in conflict resolution processes. The Declaration represented a strong commitment to take action, she said.
LIDUVINA MAGARIN, Vice-Minister for Salvadorans Abroad of El Salvador, said the human rights of migrant and refugee populations must be protected, particularly by origin, transit and destination countries. Whereas data told only one story, all stakeholders must be taken into account, and solutions must be applied on a case-by-case basis. Recognizing the needs of vulnerable populations, she said women and children were easy prey for traffickers and migrants must, therefore, be given support that would guarantee their rights and ensure their safety. Citing an example of cooperation, she said her country’s Government had held dialogues with Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States on finding a joint solution and sharing responsibilities. A comprehensive approach to migration was an effective way to address the current situation in a positive manner, she said, adding that El Salvador stood ready to take people-centred action.
GERD MÜLLER, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, said 10 developing countries were accommodating the largest numbers of refugees while 10 industrialized countries were funding most of the global refugee assistance. Going forward, a balance must be struck and responsibilities shared, he emphasized. Noting that a total of $8 billion was needed to help displaced persons in Syria and Iraq, he said only $3.5 billion had been delivered, describing the gap between commitments and deliverables as shameful. Monitoring systems must track commitments to ensure that promises were kept. Advanced planning also required sustainable funding, he said, adding that his country supported the United Nations refugee fund.
ANTONINETTE DINGA-DZONDO, Minister for Social Affairs, Humanitarian Action and Solidarity of Congo, said her country currently sheltered more than 53,000 refugees, most of them from neighbouring countries. In order for migration flows to contribute to national development, migrants and refugees must be safe and secure, she said, adding that any lasting solution must therefore include close cooperation among origin, transit and destination countries. Congo had taken certain measures at the national level to provide migrants and refugees with basic services including health, education and housing, as well as ensuring their security and protection. The international community had acknowledged that addressing the migrant and refugee issue was critical to the sustainable development agenda, and Congo remained committed to protecting the rights of refugees and migrants.
ABDERAHMANE SYLLA, Foreign Minister of Mali, said there were about 500,000 internally displaced persons in his country. The Government had implemented an action plan for 2016 to 2020 aimed at addressing displacement and facilitating the return of those displaced. There was an urgent need for disaster risk reduction measures, effective settling of conflicts and efforts to combat all sources of inequality. The overall approach to managing migration flows hinged on stepping up dialogue to find solutions to security needs while respecting migrants and refugees, he said, adding that there was also an obligation to deal humanely with migrants, both legal and illegal. Mali’s action plan set forth guidance on better management of migration to reduce poverty and implement sustainable development. Implementation of the action plan would provide opportunities for young people and help to prevent them from being recruited by terrorist groups.
KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, President of Croatia, said that implementing the 2030 Agenda would address the root causes of the migration crisis, which could finally be brought to an end through hard and soft power. Coordination and cooperation would promote safe and more regular migration patterns. Croatia had spent about €20 million to address the migrant problem, money that could have been spent on other programmes to help those in Croatia as well as refugees in the Middle East. “Everyone should have the right to remain in their home,” she said, emphasizing that families must never be placed in a situation whereby they had to leave someone behind.
JOHN MCCALLUM, Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, said immigrants and refugees were the very embodiment of his country’s diversity. Approaches to the refugee and migrant question must address the particular challenges faced by female refugees, while taking an equitable and comprehensive approach in solving challenges. Immigrants had enabled Canada to become prosperous, he said, adding that around the world, migrants and refugees filled skill gaps and improved understanding of other cultures. In formulating a cooperative approach, it was important to facilitate access to education for refugees and migrants. “We hear a lot of voices around the world who speak with insecurity about others,” he said. There was also a need to reduce irregular migration patterns by protecting refugees and combating migrant smuggling.
GENNADIY GATILOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the best way to tackle migration issues was to address their root causes. “We need to provide for security, safety and human rights,” and to forge contacts between humanitarian and development actors. It was important to prevent foreign intervention in internal affairs, which had caused migration in the Middle East and North Africa, from being accepted as a means to forcibly oust inconvenient Governments. States contributing to such interventions must bear the greatest responsibility in offering solutions to the victims, he emphasized. Tackling migration in Europe required political settlements in origin countries, as well as socioeconomic development and State-building assistance. The Government of the Russian Federation supported the international refugee-protection regime, donated funds to UNHCR and provided aid to origin countries. It also was also host to 1 million forced migrants from Ukraine. Utmost efforts must be taken to prevent the entry of foreign terrorists, he stressed. Overcoming migration challenges, including by providing protection, must be in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, as well as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said comments by his counterparts from Georgia and Ukraine had included unjustified accusations against his country, the aim of which was to shift blame and justify criminal policies that forced people to flee their homes.
YERZHAN ASHIKBAYEV, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, said his country had its own experience of migration and that refugees enjoyed the same rights as Kazakh citizens. To synergize international cooperation, the country had partnered with the IOM, focusing specifically on migration flows from Afghanistan, he said, adding that Kazakhstan had invested more than $15 million to help improve that country’s civil society capacities.
LINAS ANTANAS LINKEVICIUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said the response to the migration issue must be global and holistic, destroying smuggling networks, engaging border guards, and, in Europe, deploying rapid intervention teams to the Greek islands. Lithuania had supplied aid and civil protection in such efforts. He urged addressing the root causes of displacement, as well as fostering the rule of law, respect for human rights and accountability, all of which must be at the core of such actions. “Refugees and migrants don’t need our charity,” he emphasized. Greater investment as well as social cohesion among migrants could have benefits for development, efforts that must help women and youth to reach their full potential. Urging responsibility sharing rather than responsibility shifting, he said Lithuania looked forward to the global compacts to be developed by 2018.
SHAW KGATHI, Minister for Defence, Justice and Security of Botswana, said that throughout the years, his country had provided protection for many displaced persons from sub-Saharan Africa. It currently hosted around 3,000 refugees, and like all other countries, it was doing its best to ensure that they lived in safety and dignity. Current migration trends required Governments and international organizations to come up with sustainable solutions, he said. Regrettably, the global security situation remained volatile, which increased pressures on the economies of developing countries in particular.
MILENKO SKOKNIC, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said the response to the migration crisis should recognize the multidimensional aspects of the problem, as well as its political, social, economic and humanitarian impacts. Over the last decade, Chile had become a country of migrants, with figures showing that it had received 500,000 migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean since 2015. In response, the Government had implemented a policy based on promoting and implementing human rights commitments, he said. It had created a council on migratory matters, mandated to define a national policy, as well as guidelines and strengthened legislation. The goal was to have in place a national system to respond to migratory flows. Through its work on the Security Council, Chile had strengthened rapid access for humanitarian aid to communities in need, he said.
BROOK BARRINGTON, Chief Executive of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, said the challenges of global migration flows were complex. New Zealand was committed to do its part to find protection solutions for the most vulnerable refugee groups. In its own region, the country had increased capacity to address those challenges through the Bali Process, a landmark declaration to counter human trafficking and criminal networks. In addition, in the Pacific, the threat of forced displacement due to natural hazard was a reality Governments must address and integrate into their migration frameworks.
RY TUY (Cambodia) said that the movement of people was not a new phenomenon. However, today’s refugees were “day-by-day subject to discrimination, xenophobia, frustrated”, and “often victims of emotional or psychological trauma,” he said. He stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of forced displacement, as well as the significance of international cooperation. Highlighting Cambodia’s own experience with refugee outflows, he noted the convening in 1979 by the then United Nations Secretary-General of an international conference on refugees in South-East Asia. That initiative, he said, had helped avert the immediate crisis at that time. Cambodia welcomed the vital role of the International Organization for Migration and requested the group provide technical and secretariat support for the negotiations to develop the Global Compact for safe, regular and orderly migration and the intergovernmental conference to adopt it in 2018.
IGOR CRNADAK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Europe had experienced a breakdown of the Schengen system. Therefore, he noted, better sharing of the international community’s mutual responsibility towards displaced persons was important. For the millions of refugees, “not being left behind” meant the ability to be reintegrated to their home countries. That required new thinking on all levels, and global attention to address the crisis. The World Humanitarian Conference in Turkey displayed the commitment of the international community. Bosnia and Herzegovina regarded and treated its refugee and migrant groups as the same, he noted, stressing that more focus should be devoted to the interlinkages between migration and development. The international community must continue sending clear messages that barb wires and heavy police control had no place in Europe.
ANIS BIROU, Minister in Charge of Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs of Morocco, said today’s meeting offered hope that humanitarian values had not died. “Acts are what we expect,” he said, as they were a way to fight ignorance, violence, racism and xenophobia. Today, Morocco was stable, having been a transit county and given hope to thousands of refugees. Its migration policy was grounded in human rights and a humanitarian approach, as well as on shared responsibility and an international approach. It had been translated through a process that had provided help to thousands of refugees, especially from sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, Morocco’s integration programme focused on education and support for refugee children to succeed at school, including by providing medical insurance to them. He expressed concern at the increased xenophobia in host countries, stressing that Morocco would ensure a focus on that matter at the climate change conference to be held in Marrakech.
MARIA ANDREA MATAMOROS, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Honduras, reminded Assembly members that migration is not just a passing phenomenon, and that the forces of irregular migration had to urgently be eradicated. But, she warned, we could not categorize migrants as “regular” or “irregular”. If we provided better opportunities, there would be more regular, orderly and safe migration. No one country could act alone.
FAUSTIN-ARCHANGE TOUADÉRA, President of the Central African Republic, said his State had offered asylum to migrants from neighbouring countries and elsewhere. There had been a massive displacement of people, both within and outside the Central African Republic, numbering up to 900,000 displaced at the height of the crisis, among them thousands of women and children who had been forced to flee their homes. Hundreds of economic activities had been abandoned. Large movements of people fed insecurity and dehumanization. His country, having returned to constitutional legality, had made progress and the international community must help it combat the causes of displacement. He urged implementation of the action plan to prevent conflicts and help for mitigating the impacts of natural hazards. Strategies for refugee and migrant return must also be devised.
FRANÇOIS BEYA KASONGA, Director General for the Head Office of Migration of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said economic development was undermined and security remained a challenge in his country, with almost 2 million displaced people. He further noted that the principle of shared responsibility had not been respected by the international community. The lack of financing had impeded repatriation and integration of refugees. His State supported commitments that included increased support to countries hosting refugees. That responsibility could no longer be carried by only African host countries; international protection could not be effective without burden sharing. That was why the Democratic Republic of the Congo called for real and effective resources for African countries in their protection of refugees.
ILYAS MOUSSA DAWALEH, Minister for the Economy and Finance of Djibouti, said the scale of the migration problem in 2015 marked a 41 per cent increase in migrants and refugee flows since 2010, requiring urgent international mobilization. While the causes of massive population movements had been recognized, the international community had been challenged to address them, with countries only watching as people died in shipwrecks. Such situations posed questions about humanity. Since 1977, Djibouti had welcomed many refugees, especially from neighbouring countries, fleeing war and drought alike. Despite its limited resources, it had welcomed them with humanity and impartiality. Djibouti had quickly acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1969 Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention. It was among those countries that supported the General Assembly decision against human trafficking. It was among the major host countries, given the number of migrants arriving and its relative size. It was among the only routes for foreign nationals fleeing fighting in Yemen and had welcomed 36,000 people in that context.
ANAMARÍA DIÉGUEZ ARÉVALO, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said citizens fleeing her country were not persecuted but seeking to improve the livelihoods of their families. For Guatemala, and other countries in Latin America, migration was an important issue due to the large scale of migrants. She disagreed with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ recognition of Guatemalan migrants as refugees fleeing persecution. “If you analyse the patterns of migration, you cannot say these people are fleeing violence, they want to join their families and provide them a better future,” she underscored. Therefore, her country had developed a plan for prosperity in particularly affected municipalities. It had also increased opportunities for safe and orderly migration as well as expanded legal ways for migration. In that regard, Guatemala had asked the United States for help, hoping that the Obama Administration would fully implement the migration reforms it had set out to execute.
SHRI M.J. AKBAR, Honourable Minister of State for External Affairs of India, highlighted his country’s partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and UNRWA. He underlined the complexities of the issue, and the scale, with 250 million persons currently on the move globally. “Nationalism is the contemporary architecture of stability, and we understand its importance. The intersection of humanitarian needs and national imperatives makes this a complex issue,” he said. India was both a destination country and a transit nation for migrants. Its civilization was built upon successive waves of migration throughout history, comprising traders, soldiers, missionaries, communities escaping persecution, artists and academics and artisans seeking better opportunities. The Government focused its attention on the entire range of issues relating to Indian emigrants, especially those with lesser skills. “Terrorism is the principle cause of refugee movements,” he said. “Can we ignore this fact? No. We do so at our peril. Terrorism is an existential threat. Hypocrisy towards this crisis will not do. […] Terrorism is the biggest danger to human rights.” Large movements of people across borders served as reminders that the world was a global village, and that its people could only perish or prosper together.
ABDOLREZA RAHMANI FAZLI, Minister for the Interior of Iran, said that destabilizing legitimate Governments was among the root causes of the present refugee crisis. Large movements of people had effects and implications beyond borders and no single country could respond on its own. The summit provided an opportunity for a global approach so that all countries could take responsibility. Due to its geographical position, Iran had faced an influx of refugees for more than three decades. Despite limited international support, it had shouldered that heavy burden, providing refugees with services such as education and health care. The literacy rate among refugees in Iran was now 67 per cent. Any new commitments made towards refugees should be in conformity with legislation and Iran renewed its call to solve refugee problems through sustainable voluntary repatriation and resettlement.
YEMANE GEBREAB, Senior Political Adviser to the President of Eritrea, said his country’s first goal with regard to the refugee crisis must be to agree on the importance of legal, safe and regular migration. It was incongruous that in an increasingly globalized world, human mobility was stridently opposed. That attitude must change because suffering could be reduced by means of safe and orderly migration. Another goal should be to address the drivers of migration including forced migration, such as lack of development, violations of fundamental freedoms and climate change. Every nation had a primary responsibility to provide people with a dignified life in their own country and enable them to pursue opportunities in other countries. Developing countries needed support and solidarity in pursuit of that goal. The current propensity of some to seek unilateral trade advantages at the expense of developing countries in the pursuit of “power politics” must be resisted.
ABELARDO MORENO FERNANDEZ, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said that shocking images over the last few years of desperate migrants crossing the Mediterranean were a result of destabilizing actions by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Middle East and North Africa. “Migrants cannot be treated as animals on the border of civilized countries they attempt to enter. They must not be regarded as criminals or potential terrorists,” he said. He highlighted that those who today were refusing to provide shelter were forgetting that their citizens had required protection during the two World Wars. Industrialized countries had to forego their hegemonic interests and the exclusionary economic order must be revised. Certain policies by countries created difficulties for transit policies and encouraged human trafficking, he said. The meeting would only produce tangible results if the root causes of migration were addressed through commitments.
LUBOMÍR ZAORÁLEK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said that migration was too often a forced solution to problems with a negative impact on the nations of transit and stay. Addressing the root causes of the crisis in refugees’ countries of origin should be the cornerstone of global efforts to tackle the problem. It was up to those Governments to implant the necessary values and principles, without which no other global efforts could be effective. Security was also a crucial issue, with the threat posed by violent extremists. Migrant rights to protection had to be balanced by country needs to maintain security. Europe’s need to maintain security and democracy meant that it must protect itself and its values and legal frameworks must be respected by all migrants. To regulate the volume of migration, countries had had no choice but to prioritize, distinguishing between refugees and economic migrants, with full respect to the human rights of all migrants.
AHMED BARWARI, Head of the Department of Internal Organizations for Iraq, said that there were multiple reasons for migration. Migration could cause demographic change and disruption of social structures, but there were positive benefits as well. He highlighted the role of human trafficking and smuggling networks and said that terrorism was among the main causes of forced migrations. Iraq was an example, with the terrorism of Da’esh causing the migration of millions of people into his country. That had caused a major challenge for the Government, but Iraq had never shut the door to Syrian refugees fleeing terrorism and his State had hosted more than a quarter of a million Syrians since the beginning of the crisis. No country alone could contain all the world’s refugees and Iraq requested the international community to stand by it, including supporting programmes of psychological rehabilitation of women and girls who had been raped and ill-treated by Da’esh, training the largest number of civil servants in ministries and displacement and migration institutions to provide necessary assistance to refugees and international assistance from donor countries to relieve Syrian refugees and displaced people in Iraq. He also stressed the right of Palestinian refugees to return.
ANTONIO GARCIA REVILLA, Director-General of Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Ministry for External Relations for Peru, said it was important to combat xenophobia and racism against refugees and ensure their access to health care, education and decent work. Peru was firmly committed to that approach with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It was vital that national development plans should include actions to foster greater opportunities for safe and regular migration. The 2030 Agenda had highlighted migration and human movement by recognizing it as a special factor in human development that could contribute positively to sustainable development.
PIETRO PAROLIN, Secretary of State for the Holy See, said there was a need for cross-border dialogue and cooperation among nations, international organizations and humanitarian agencies. Partnerships with religious organizations and faith communities were particularly helpful as they included skilled parties who were often first responders to refugee and migrant movements and the internally displaced. Appealing for political and multilateral efforts to address the root causes of large movements and the forced displacement of people, he emphasized the summit’s importance, which echoed Pope Francis’ warning about the globalization of indifference. Welcoming the IOM-United Nations agreement, he expressed interest in participating in the Global Forum on Migration and Development and the Global Migration Group.
THOMAS BACH, President of the International Olympic Committee, said that his organization fully supported the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, including the role of civil society as a key partner. His organization had announced, one year ago at the General Assembly, the creation of the first—ever refugee Olympic team. At the Rio 2016 Games, that team had participated alongside the best 11,000 athletes of the world from all 206 International Olympic Committees. They had competed like any other Olympic team and had sent a strong message of solidarity and hope to refugees around the world. Despite the unimaginable tragedy and suffering they had faced, they had shown that anyone could contribute to society through their talent, skills, and most importantly, through the strength of their human spirit. He also announced a proposal that the Committee would build safe places for children to play sport. In cities where there were displaced migrant populations or people in refugee camps, sport could become the glue which would bind communities together, he said. Those safe places through sport would be easily adaptable to local areas of need.
ANDREJ KISKA, President of Slovakia, said millions of people were leaving their countries because of war and fear. The international community should not speak about numbers, but rather focus on real human problems, such as those faced by children, mothers, fathers and families. There must be greater attention paid to real lives and real stories. To do that, greater thought must be devoted to putting together the best tools to address the issues faced by refugees and migrants. He welcomed the new partnership between the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The world must not forget that it was a moral duty to help those in need.
MUHAMMADU BUHARI, President of Nigeria, said that economic, social and political upheavals meant that millions of people were on the move, resulting in serious consequences. Migration was not a crime. Human movement was a necessary expression of the fundamental right to safety, which was a legitimate right recognized by international humanitarian law. The world was indeed facing a dilemma. Free movement must be assured, particularly for those facing imminent threats to their lives. It was important to recognize that such efforts to help refugees and migrants came with serious financial costs. It was unfortunate that nations with the required capacities were unwilling to help address the refugee problem, despite it being their obligation to do so. In Nigeria, more than 2 million people were internally displaced due to the activities of Boko Haram.
GJORGE IVANOV, President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said that the movement of peoples across Europe had been triggered by both the pursuit of happiness, as well as fear. Many of those people were being motivated to utilize certain corridors to reach Europe. There must be a clear distinction between the legal, humanitarian, political, social and security aspects of the crisis. There must be new leadership to manage the risks associated with the mass movement of people. Serious tensions had emerged between European countries. The challenges of European security depended on leadership, political stability and the efforts of third-party countries situated on certain entrance and exit corridors. The European Union needed stable and secure third countries that were capable of managing those corridors. The migrant flow was equivalent to a flood, which required the activation of a crisis management system.
MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, said countries must come together around a more humane and better coordinated approach to migration. It was crucial to address the deep-rooted causes of today’s migration, including poverty, inequality, insecurity, democratic deficit and the devastating effects of climate change. Indeed, the international community must come to grips with those issues, encourage regulated migration, protect migrants and if necessary ensure their return and readmission to their countries of origin. Expressing support for the two global pacts proposed by the Secretary-General, he said Niger was suffering the consequences of crises in Libya and Mali, as well as the actions of Boko Haram, and had received thousands of refugees. Among other things, it was also suffering from the effects of climate change, which had made hundreds of thousands of its citizens more vulnerable. Calling for consistent mobilization on the part of the international community, as well as the speedy resolution of the Libyan crises and the stabilization of the situation in Mali, he recalled that Niger had proposed a plan of action at the Europe-Africa Summit which would work to put an end to the drama of migrants across the Sahara.
JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, welcomed the adoption of the outcome document by Member States, stressing that “we must alleviate the plight of refugees and migrants everywhere.” The movement of people across borders was not a new phenomenon, he said, cautioning Member States not to forget that the plight of all forcibly displaced persons should be treated with equal concern, whether they formed part of large or small movements of people. In order to adequately address the challenge, its root causes must be addressed, he said, noting that underdevelopment was a key driver of the displacement of people and could lead to armed conflict. A concerted global effort to address those issues must be a central focus on all Member States. Sub-Saharan Africa had hosted a vast number of forcibly displaced persons, with South Africa being the largest single recipient of asylum seekers. Before the problems in Libya, North Africa had been peaceful; it was the manner in which that crisis was handled that had led to the current flows of migration.
BORUT PAHOR, President of Slovenia, calling the current surge in refugees a “human tragedy”, said that migration was beneficial when it was orderly and regular. The aim was to avoid irregular migration and end criminal networks that profited from it. Disinformation and false expectation of life in new lands must also be countered. Cooperation on all aspects of migration management must be strengthened, including on the return and reintegration of irregular migrants to their countries of origin. Conflict, poverty and other “push causes” could only be addressed by the entire international community together. As a transit country in Europe, Slovenia faced an unprecedented flow of migrants and refugees. From mid-October 2015 to the beginning of March 2016, more than 477,000 people entered the country, equivalent to a quarter of the entire Slovenian population. The country had actively participated in the European reallocation and resettlement scheme and had significantly increased assistance for internally displaced persons and refugees. The outcome document of today’s meeting was a good start on better international coordination on the issue, but adoption of a global compact on migration and enhancement of United Nations capabilities in the area were critical.
ANDRZEJ DUDA, President of Poland, said today’s unprecedented scale of migration affected every region and continent of the world. Migration occurred as a result of conflict, economic crises and natural disasters, and the current debate on the matter did not adequately differentiate between economic migration and refugees. Stressing that those situations were totally different, he said more than 1 million economic migrants lived in Poland, while many had also left the country to live elsewhere. Migration could produce social tensions or prejudice, as some migrants sought to abuse the social systems of the receiving State, and some politicians used those harmful stereotypes for their own gain. With regard to refugees, he said it was incumbent on the international community to address the real causes of refugee flows. Conflicts which resulted from imperial ambitions or ethnic hatred must be put to an end and States must work to address the operations of criminal groups, which collected money from the smuggling of migrants. “We cannot turn a blind eye to the blood-stained money which circulates around the world,” he said.
BARON DIVAVESI WAQA, President of Nauru, said it must not be forgotten that the humanitarian crisis of today was largely the result of deliberate policy choices. The gains of globalization and technological advances had not been shared equitably, which had resulted in large-scale migration. The crisis had human origins which should be deeply troubling for all leaders entrusted with protecting the lives and well-being of their peoples. Nauru was not typically a source, transit or destination country for migrants or refugees. Nevertheless, in 2001 and again in 2012, Nauru was invited to help migration in the region. His country had agreed to host a remote processing centre which had helped to eliminate deaths at sea and ensure that States could control their borders, while also ensuring that people in need were granted protection. A robust, fair refugee assessment system had been put into place, which ensured that people seeking protection could have their claims processed in a timely manner.
MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA, President of Portugal, said it was essential to place people at the centre of all decisions related to refugees and migrants. States, international organizations and civil society must fully integrate their policies. Cooperation between nations and civil society must be much more effective in stabilizing political situations and solving conflicts. Portugal believed all child refugees or migrants deserved access to health care and education, irrespective of their status. A global platform for Syrian students had been established in Europe which had allowed for many young people to continue their studies. The number of refugees and migrants received by Portugal had doubled, while the country’s financial contribution to agencies dealing with migrant and refugee issues had increased.
MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, recalled that more than 65 million people were internally displaced persons, refugees or migrants. The migratory phenomenon was not something new, but today it was being amplified by the effects of war and other instability, including the effects of climate change. Only a global approach that was calm and coordinated could resolve such a complex problem. Senegal was hosting a number of refugees and migrants. Further, Senegal had a large diaspora around the world, which meant the country was particularly sensitive to how migrants were treated by host countries. All migrants or refugees deserved to be treated in a way that respected their dignity and fundamental human rights — no matter where they came from. The situation of migrants and refugees who had lived for many years in host countries must not be called into question because of the current large movements of people. Many migrants and refugees had been living and working in host countries for many years and contributing to those countries’ economic gains.
DON FELIPE VI, King of Spain, said some 75 million refugees and internally displaced persons were currently fleeing terrorism or persecution and knocking on the doors of Europe. It was up to all States to welcome them, subject to their capacity, and to respect their fundamental rights. Stressing that the present meeting could not be seen as an isolated event, and that an ongoing effort would be required on the part of all States, he said Spain was ready to prepare and negotiate the two proposed pacts on migrants and refugees. As a historic cross‑road country, Spain was aware that migratory flows, if correctly managed, could have a positive effect on host societies. Indeed, the country based its migration policies on the protection of people and cooperation with origin and transit countries. Calling for concerted international efforts against human trafficking and solidarity with host and transit countries, he said no country could solve the crisis alone.
ELADIO RAMÓN LOIZAGA LEZCANO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, said the present refugee crisis was first and foremost a political one in which people had been forced to flee violence and intolerance. Those people merited the protection of the Member States, he said, underscoring their right to seek new opportunities in other parts of the world. The protection of human rights could never depend on a person’s migratory status, he said, recalling that Paraguay had welcomed a large number of migrants throughout its history. Noting that those people had contributed positively to the country’s development, he advocated the promotion of safe, organized and regular migration. Only through an in-depth understanding of the migratory process could the world face migration with fewer fears and prejudices.
ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Prime Minister of Andorra, said human history was full of great migratory movements, which had generally been a positive phenomenon. Describing Andorra’s own history with migration, he said the country had long welcomed refugees from wars and political conflicts, including by serving as an escape route for Jewish families fleeing the Nazi regime. Today, Andorra was working to introduce legislation to regularize the situation of provisional asylum. Drawing a distinction between the situation of economic migrants and refugees — whose situation was more desperate — he said the international community had a duty to provide asylum to the latter. The rights and dignity of refugees must be protected and States should work to ensure that their despair was not exploited by criminals who trafficked in humans. Stressing that such concerns must be addressed at the global level, he expressed support for global regulations on migration.
PETRO POROSHENKO, President of Ukraine, stressed that humanity was being tested by the unprecedented refugee and migrant crisis. The millions of people on the move were united by the same hope to live in safety and dignity. He expressed his strong solidarity with those who were forced to abandon their homes against their will, due to aggression. He recalled that 1.8 million Ukrainians had been forced to seek a new home within the country due to the actions of the Russian Government. Ukraine had consistently demonstrated its commitment to protecting those who had fled their homes and to provide them with the basic services they required. The outcome of the summit could give hope to millions of people. There was a need to combat xenophobia, discrimination and human trafficking. Ukraine had been one of the first European countries to criminalize human trafficking.
ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister and Minister for Public Utilities of Tuvalu, said the scene had been set for world leaders to take action on the refugee and migrant crisis. The realities of multiple crises, including numerous conflicts and disasters, had captivated the world’s imagination. As a family, the United Nations must respond and heed calls to address the monumental crises that currently existed. Long-term solutions must be found for the safety and dignity of migrants and refugees. Whether people were displaced internally or abroad — whether they were fleeing armed conflict, religious persecution, poverty, food insecurity, terrorism or human rights violations and abuses — they all deserved to have their needs addressed. The United Nations must rescue those people and give them security assurances for their livelihoods and survival. As a small island State, Tuvalu was particularly sensitive to the needs of the millions of people displaced by the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels.
RIMBINK PATO, Foreign Minister and Minister for Immigration of Papua New Guinea, noted that his country hosted a regional settlement facility, which was home to thousands of people seeking new opportunities. Many of those individuals had chosen to settle in his country, while others had sought resettlement elsewhere. However, Papua New Guinea was in the process of closing that facility due to a ruling of the country’s Supreme Court. As a small island State, Papua New Guinea was particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and coastal erosion, which had already forced the displacement of people and communities. Many livelihoods were dependent on the seas, therefore, changes in weather patterns and lost biodiversity had forced many people to move elsewhere. In his country, climate change was not an abstract idea. The summit must result in lasting and meaningful partnerships to overcome the challenges of mass movements of people, which had become a serious global humanitarian crisis and threatened international peace and security.
ROBERT MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, noted that a large portion of refugees that had landed on European shores originated from conflict regions. He, therefore, remained convinced that a return to the United Nations Charter ideals of saving generations from war and refraining from using armed forces was critical in solving the large movement of refugees. “More often than not, Member States have been too keen to resort to force without exhausting peaceful means,” he said, adding that the “hegemonic military doctrine” remained at the root of the proliferation of armed conflicts which spawned so many refugees. He also expressed concern that some recent efforts to combat terrorism had tended to “trample down” upon the rights of migrant communities. While States had a legitimate right to take appropriate measures to protect their citizens from terrorism, there was great risk of mimicking the very same terrorist scourge. He reminded that the international community had a collective responsibility to change that narrative on migrants and migration. Many countries owed some of their success in business and scientific prowess to the invaluable contributions of migrants and refugees. He expressed hope that the Declaration adopted today would culminate in a sustainable solution to refugee situation.
MOHAMMED BIN NAIF BIN ABDULAZIZ AL SAUD, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, stressed that the current refugee crises required harmonized global efforts. Saudi Arabia’s migration policies had been created in line with the principles of Islam, he said, noting that the country ranked third globally in humanitarian and development assistance. Since the eruption of Syria’s crisis, Saudi Arabia had been on the forefront of providing support to its refugees, having received some 2.5 million Syrians and working to ensure full respect for their human rights. Among other things, Saudi Arabia provided education and health care to all refugees from Syria, as well as Yemen. The first step to dealing with the current refugee crisis was to intensify efforts to resolve disputes through proactive diplomacy under the United Nations Charter. For its part, Saudi Arabia would work tirelessly with international organizations and other States to achieve peace and international security.
SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN BIN JASSIM ALTHANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said the world had witnessed the flouting of human rights and international law, which had led to unprecedented waves of migration. “We cannot close our eyes to such massive breaches of human rights,” he stressed, adding that the world must work together to find political solutions to those crises. Noting that lack of education was one of the critical issues facing refugees, he said Qatar had long warned that conflicts across the Arab region could have disastrous impacts on international peace and security. Global cooperation was needed to seek lasting solutions to those problems, in line with the Charter. The Middle East region had faced those issues for seven decades, since the start of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Today, the flight of refugees from Syria was an inevitable result of the serious crimes being committed there. An urgent resolution to that conflict was critical.
JUAN CARLOS VARELA RODRÍGUEZ, President of Panama, said his country formed a natural bridge between North and South America, which thousands of migrants crossed every year. Stressing that all migratory policies should be grounded in respect for the right to life, he said that while migration could not be stopped, it could be regulated in order to ensure justice and equity. Panama had recently implemented an operation known as “Controlled Flow”, through which vulnerable migrants were given special attention and assistance. In the context of the Americas, he expressed particular concern about the situation in Haiti, where thousands of Haitians had sought to migrate north following its massive 2010 earthquake. Panama continued to respond to the crisis, but also called for a rethinking of migratory policies. Most recently, the rapprochement between the Governments of the United States and Cuba was beginning to yield results. Expressing hope that such actions would result in the complete normalization of relations and migratory flows between those two nations, he concluded by pledging to work actively with the international community to find a holistic solution to the present crisis.
PERRY GLADSTONE CHRISTIE, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Bahamas, said global consensus was urgently needed on how to deal with the refugee and migrant phenomenon. While discussions on migration tended to focus on the negative aspects of the mass movements of people, the Bahamas was acutely mindful of the positive impacts of regular migration, including economic development, cross-cultural fertilization and the prospects for State-to-State cooperation on matters of common concern. There must be a comprehensive approach to irregular migration, particularly the underlying causes that resulted in people risking their lives, and those of their children, in search of a better life. The Bahamas continued to receive large numbers of migrants from Haiti and Cuba, which was an unsustainable pattern that could not continue unabated. The Bahamas’ immigration policies were designed to protect security interests and the social well-being of peoples. All relevant parties must make a more concerted effort to address the patterns of irregular migration, although protective laws should not be used to shield migrants that committed criminal acts. The Bahamas had enacted policies aimed at providing protection and support to regular and irregular migrants, alike.
SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said that mutual trust and respect, shared responsibility and inclusiveness were critical to address migration comprehensively. As the international community had pledged to leave no one behind, migrants’ rights must be secured irrespective of their status. In order to place migration and mobility in a new and positive narrative, Bangladesh had proposed a global compact, addressing some of the long-standing gaps in migration governance. Climate change and resultant displacement of millions of people were a reality. The compact would have to take into account the protection need of millions of climate-displaced people. It also must build on the Partnership for Protection and Development, which had been adopted at the World Humanitarian Summit.
MUHAMMAD NAWAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said people were fleeing from desperate conditions of conflict, war and poverty. Those hapless people deserved compassion and humane treatment. For millions of people, the summit offered a glimmer of hope. “We must not fail them,” he stressed. The large influx of refugees and migrants to Europe had brought renewed focus to their plight. The images of migrants and refugees moving across the continent had shaken the conscious of the world. Yet, the true scale of the crises lay beyond those headlines. Countries like Pakistan bore the brunt of large-scale displacement, often as the result of protracted crises. It was time for the international community to forge a comprehensive global compact on the mass movement of people, based on equitable burden-sharing, which ensured that displaced people did not suffer at the hands of xenophobic or discriminatory policies or attitudes. The root causes of voluntary and forced displacement must be addressed; otherwise a solution to the phenomenon would remain elusive. He recalled that Pakistan had hosted millions of Afghan refugees for many years. Despite its modest resources, the country had opened its heart, while also supporting the refugees’ right to a safe and dignified return to Afghanistan.
CHRISTIAN KERN, Federal Chancellor of Austria, said that one of the richest regions in the world, the European Union, was struggling to cope with the phenomenon of mass movements of people. Due to its location at the heart of Europe, Austria had sought to address the complex challenges posed by irregular migration. The international community must protect the fundamental human rights of migrants and refugees and respect international human rights law, including when dealing with irregular migration. He expressed concern that such movements posed huge risks to the migrants, themselves. Irregular migration must be stopped, both in the interest of the migrants and host countries, alike. Legal routes must be opened in order to save lives and common efforts must be undertaken to ensure they worked efficiently. The New York Declaration was clear about the fact that no single nation alone could solve the refugee and migrant crisis. The only sustainable and effective way to solve the problem was to address the root causes of migration, including conflict, climate change and the lack of economic opportunities.
ERNA SOLBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, said the time had come for a global approach and for real partnerships to address the current refugee crisis and that migration should be voluntary, not forced by circumstances. Norway would continue its work assisting refugees and internally displaced persons in conflict zones, having increased its humanitarian budget by over 25 per cent this year alone. Underscoring the need to distinguish between economically motivated migrants and refugees, she also spotlighted the need for closer cooperation between countries on the return of people who did not qualify for asylum or protection. International law already provided a solid legal framework for the protection of refugees, but stronger enforcement was needed, as were efforts to address the root causes of forced displacement. Noting in that regard that Norway would continue to keep its development assistance levels high, she also described the country’s support for global health and education efforts, and urged all Member States to deliver, in particular, on their commitments to Syria. “We will not overcome the refugee crisis by building walls”, but by working together to build a common future, she said.
STEFAN LÖFVEN, Prime Minister of Sweden, quoted from a letter from a migrant fleeing Sweden in 1870, recalling that many Swedes had left the country in the nineteenth century and contributed to the diversity of other nations. Stressing the need to address the root causes of today’s crisis, including hunger and poverty, he called for strong societies that promoted shared prosperity and worked towards sustainable peace and security. Sweden was working as a member of the international community to address those issues, and would continue to do so when it took up its seat on the Security Council next year. Calling for increases in global support for United Nations agencies, rapid response capacities and improved early warning systems, he stressed that “protection is a shared international responsibility”. Migration could boost development, including by spreading both wealth and ideas. Sweden had transformed from a poor agricultural society into a leading industrialized nation, which had been achieved through decent work and welfare for all. There was no better policy against forced migration, he said, adding that those goals should be every Government’s highest priority.
ALEXANDER DE CROO, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, underscored the core principles of shared responsibility and solidarity, stressing that all Governments had the responsibility to do everything possible to prevent the forced migration of their people. “Migration needs to be a positive choice, not a necessity,” he said, calling on the international community to help create conditions for safe, legal and orderly migration. Noting that Belgium, together with the IOM, the Government of Mali and other partners, would host a high-level event on the use of data in migration on Thursday, he emphasized the importance of respecting human rights. Strongly committed to a global response to the challenges of migration, his country would continue to work towards a solution to the Syrian crisis, as well as supporting the European Union Emergency Fund for Africa and other related initiatives. Noting that Belgium’s financial contribution for refugee programmes had increased this year to €92 million, he added that much of its official development assistance (ODA) was focused on the world’s least developed countries.
DON PRAMUDWINAI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said that the outcomes of the Assembly’s historic meeting must combine with other efforts to bring about action to solve the problems related to large movements of people. Political will was required, prevention was the key and root causes must be addressed, with particular attention to poverty reduction. There was a need to rigorously screen out those who were abusing the system from those who truly needed assistance. In the latter category, the needs of women and children must be addressed as a priority. Noting that his country had been providing assistance to migrants for many years, he said that, however, a structured, shared global framework was urgently needed.
MALCOLM TURNBULL, Prime Minister of Australia, said diversity was an investment against extremism and helped communities unite rather than divide. As global concern around immigration increased worldwide, the need to build community support for migration had never been clearer. Addressing irregular migration through secure borders had been essential to equip the Government to manage migration in a way that mitigated risks and focused humanitarian assistance on those who needed it most. Without such initiatives, Australia would not have been able to increase its intake of refugees by more than 35 per cent or commit to welcoming 12,000 additional Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Still, the unregulated movement of people globally was growing fast. It was critical to create order out of chaos to provide safe pathways for refugees and target those who were most in need. He emphasized the need to support, rather than duplicate, the work of the IOM and UNHCR. Regional cooperation would be essential, as well, to protect migrants and refugees and to counter human trafficking and smuggling.
PERFECTO RIVAS YASAY, JR., Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said that his country had approximately 10 million citizens working or living overseas, and the protection of their rights and welfares was a top commitment of the country’s foreign policy. During the negotiations for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Philippines had strongly advocated recognizing the positive contribution of migrants to inclusive growth and sustainable development in source, transit and destination countries. In addition, his country had ensured the promotion of human rights of all migrant workers, regardless of their migration status. Describing the summit as a critical step in dealing with the negative perceptions of migrants, he noted that it also restored the focus on the role of migrants as a positive force for sustainable development.
THERESA MAY, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, noting the magnitude of the refugee crisis, said it demanded new policies and strategies from the international community. Her country would continue leading the global response and would soon issue new financial commitments, but all countries must fulfil their responsibilities. “It is the duty of every country to respond,” she said. Conflicts and human rights abuse must be ended to ease the flow of refugees, but economic migration must also be managed. Uncontrolled migration was not in the interest of migrant or countries that they were leaving or heading to. To address the problem, migrants must be able to apply for asylum in the first safe country they reached. Refugees and economic migrants must be better differentiated. It must be ensured that countries had a right to control their borders; they must be assisted to do that while respecting human rights and legitimate needs.
ABDRABUH MANSOUR HADI MANSOUR, President of Yemen, said that his country had about 1.2 million refugees and irregular migrants, with thousands coming every month. Those people were accommodated to participate in all areas of life in his country. It was most important find peaceful solutions to the conflicts that fed much of the refugee flows. In addition, international burden-sharing was essential, with cooperation and partnership in the international context. The refugee crisis posed developmental challenges, in addition, that countries such as Yemen could not deal with. Political problems were multiplied by the situation; for example, migrants had been found participating in militias in his country. It was, in addition, important to end long-running conflicts such as the one between Palestinians and Israelis. Thanking those who had provided assistance to his country, he reiterated the call for stronger international partnership to assist refugees.
MEVLÜT ÇAVUŞOĞLU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said his country was at the cross-roads of irregular migration. With more than 3 million people, Turkey hosted the largest refugee population in the world. At the same time, the country continued its fight against human smugglers at land and sea. Through tireless efforts, the Government had been able to decrease irregular migration in the Aegean Sea by 95 per cent in the last six months. However, Turkey’s unilateral efforts could not be sufficient to cope with that global problem. “The world needs a better strategy to deal with irregular migration,” he said and added “we need it urgently”. The international community must address the root causes of refugee movements, find a political solution to the Syrian conflict, and overcome the structural problems of least developed countries. In addition, transit countries must be supported, he said, noting that countries bordering conflict regions were disproportionately affected by the flow of immigrants. In that regard, financial aid and resettlement were key instruments. Turkey had spent more than $12 billion for the Syrians alone, while the contribution of the international community had remained at $512 million. “We will continue to do what we can, but we have to admit that this is not fair,” he said.
YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI, President of Uganda, said his country was experiencing an influx of South Sudanese refugees. Since July, it had received 200,000 refugees and was the eighth largest refugee hosting country in the world. To protect refugees and meet their needs, the Government had developed and implemented various national plans. However, strong partnership was needed at the national, regional and international level to address the question of forced migration. For its part, Uganda had ensured the registration of all refugees and provided access to health care. At the same time, necessary steps had been taken by the Government to secure loans from the World Bank to fulfil existing gaps. He thanked UNHCR for providing $31 million for the 2016-2017 period.
PRAKASH SHARAN MAHAT, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, called for the development of policies that would manage international migratory flows in a way that benefitted both countries of origin and destination. Basic human rights and dignity of migrants must be protected. Today’s declaration would do much in that regard, but more action was needed. The needs of countries that host refugees must be better taken into account and economic migrants must be better differentiated from refugees. His country had long hosted both types of migrants due to humanitarian concerns. Rights to return to countries of origin must be respected; the international community should fund refugee support when necessary until they were ready to return to their homelands. He called for effective implementation of the New York Declaration.
YUN BYUNG-SE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, stressed that the refugee issue was not a mere crisis of numbers, but a crisis of responsibility and values. The unprecedented magnitude of the movements of refugees and migrants was both alarming and complex. Forced displacement was inextricably linked to various push factors, including conflicts, violence, terrorism and poverty. The twin crises of refugees and migrants were multifaceted issues in which peace and security, development and human rights were intertwined. To deal with those unprecedented challenges, it was critical that the international community coordinate immediate and long-term efforts in a systematic way. In the short term, greater protection efforts were needed as was humanitarian assistance provided to those in need, regardless of their status. To resolve the refugee crisis in the longer term, development cooperation should be combined with humanitarian assistance. In that regard, his Government had expanded financial assistance for refugees tenfold over the past five years.
SIMONETTA SOMMARUGA, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police of Switzerland, said that Europe had not been prepared for the arrival of thousands of refugees who had sought protection and better life opportunities. The crisis had proved that Europe had been unable to provide a shared response. Today, while there was no common action plan, it was a step in the right direction that relocation and reintegration programmes had been introduced. She believed that the 1951 Refugee Convention and international human rights treaties were the best tools to protect refugee rights. Emphasizing the need for equitable sharing of global responsibilities, she called upon the international community to address the issue of forced displacements. Among others, multilateral frameworks were necessary to support the well-being of countries of origin, and to exchange information among actors.
VLADIMIR MAKEI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, while acknowledging the complex nature of migration, said that the majority of refugees had sought protection as a result of conflicts within and among States. The summit was a great opportunity to address the gaps and host countries must have the necessary means to ensure the protection of refugee rights. It was unfortunate that the influx of refugees had created the perfect ground for organized crime, leading to the destabilization of societies and creating an environment for hostile actions. Member States must provide opportunities to refugees, rather than seeing them as burden, he said, while welcoming the increasing awareness on the matter.
MARIE-LOUISE POTTER (Seychelles) emphasized that a just and lasting solution must be found to the current migration crisis, through a rights-based approach. Respect for rights was the only way to protect migrants from traffickers and extremists. Urgent action was needed to properly manage regular flows of migrants and prevent conflicts from creating the unregulated irregular flows that led to many difficulties. Good governance, democracy and inclusive development models would help to stem such conflict. Her country was a melting pot that had been strengthened by migration over a long period. She called for unified action among the international community to strengthen human rights protections, stem irregular migration flows and to ensure that regular migration was managed in a way that benefited both migrants and their countries of origin and destination.
PENDUKENI IIVULA-ITHANA, Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration of Namibia, outlined the assistance that her country had been providing to approximately 3,400 refugees and asylum seekers from conflict-affected countries. As assistance was not sustainable and did not provide for a dignified life, she called on the international community to address the root causes of displacement. A migration profile in the country had shown that migrants could contribute to development, particularly in sectors where labour shortages existed. A framework was being shaped in order to manage the process in concert with the building of capacity within the country as a whole. However, she stressed that Governments must work together to ensure that people were migrating not out of desperation, but as a choice, and were using legal channels to do so. She pledged that Namibia, though affected by climate change and other challenges, was ready to play its part.
FIRUDIN NABIYEV, Chief of the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan, said that the expansion of conflicts and crisis zones across the world had resulted in forced migration. The international community must prevent armed conflicts and step up efforts to resolve refugee crisis while fully respecting international law, including State sovereignty and territorial integrity. Azerbaijan had faced large-scale internal displacement due to the occupation of its territories. For more than 25 years, Armenia had been violating the norms and principles of international law, he said, stressing that it was taking advantage of the current refugee and migrant crisis. To address the needs of internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan, the Government had spent $6 billion in the last 20 years, undertaking various measures in employment, education and health.
SALAHUDDIN RABBANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, said the time had come to put into motion a concerted international response to the current migration crisis. After decades of conflict, the country was well-acquainted with the challenge, as millions of Afghan women and children had been forced to seek refuge abroad. Underscoring the importance of treating all refugees around the world with respect, he said the Afghan National Unity Government was pursuing a viable long-term solution with a focus on voluntary return. Pointing to the upcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan as an opportunity for the international community to boost its pledges of assistance, he said the strategic role of the United Nations — and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals — would go a long way to ensuring peace, stability and development around the world. In addition, a renewed effort was needed to push back against the dangerous narrative of xenophobia.
SUSANA MALCORRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said the present meeting sought concrete responses to the largest migratory crisis in recent history. Thousands had died trying to flee violence and poverty, she said, adding that “now is the time to take action”. Immigration had long been one of the main drivers of Argentina’s economy and it had played a decisive role in its society and culture. Christians, Jews and Muslims alike lived there peacefully, she said, adding that the country had the highest number of migrants within the Latin American region. Indeed, in a world where there were so many trends towards fragmentation, Argentina was a bastion of tolerance and solidarity. Today’s meeting offered the opportunity to be part of a joint solution to the present crisis. Among other things, Argentina had put in place a visa system to provide residence permits to people affected by the Syrian conflict.
ABDUSALAM HADLIYEH OMER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Somalia, said addressing the root causes of large movements of refugees was a global imperative. Thanking the Government of Kenya for hosting large numbers of Somali refugees at the Dadaab camp for more than three decades, he said many refugees left behind their dignity and their confidence of belonging. It was important to listen to the stories of refugees and appreciate their journeys in order to create the most effective migration policies. Somalia had suffered more than three decades of war, compounded by drought and famine, which had resulted in large numbers of refugees; however, in the country’s recent recovery period, many of those people had decided to return. In that context, the Government had decided to prepare a phased repatriation plan and it continued to call for international support to enhance peace and stability.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State of the United States, said all relevant parties must do more to help refugees and migrants around the world. The Leader’s Summit on Refugees that would be held on Wednesday, hosted by the United States, was designed to add impetus to the outcome document agreed today. “Make no mistake, urgent action is needed,” he stressed. It was in the world’s singular, best interest to help refugees and migrants. It was also the “right thing to do” to ensure that people who desperately need a new home could actually find a place to live in safety. The task of providing such refuge fell most heavily on those States embroiled in strife, their neighbours and those nearby exit corridors, although the responsibility to protect refugees and migrants needed to be borne by all. The United States applauded the announcement that the IOM would join the United Nations family and called for the establishment of a United Nations special representative for internally displaced persons. The gap between the funds that the international community had and the funds that were needed remained enormous. His delegation would be even more satisfied if the need was ended entirely.
ALBERT KOENDERS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, expressed concern about the deep human suffering caused by the failure of nations to protect their citizens. Too many people were being forced to leave everything behind to pursue an uncertain future. The root causes of forced displacement needed to be addressed; vulnerable groups, such as women and children, deserved special attention and protection, migration should be regulated as much as possible and an effective global response required effective action by the United Nations and each of its members. The international community must offer protection to those in need. The New York Declaration provided a good basis for collective action. Countries that welcomed refugees were responsible for their successful integration into societies and must offer legal ways for resettlement as well as protection for the most vulnerable.
IVICA DAČIĆ, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, said that the international community had failed so far to adopt an adequate approach to the resolution of the migrant and refugee problem. His country was located along one of the major routes for the movement of refugees, and over the past year and a half, more than 700,000 of them transited through there. Serbia had organized reception centres, accommodation and transport and provided food, clothing, health care and special care for women and girls, as well as for the elderly and sick. Migrants coming to Serbia arrived from other European countries in hopes of reaching northern Europe. However, northern sections of the route remained closed risking Serbia becoming a bottleneck for several thousand stranded migrants. Hence, Serbia was coordinating with its Western Balkan neighbours to prevent irregular migration and suppress the activities of criminal groups. Taking into account the security aspect of the refugee and migrant crisis, Serbia had also tightened border controls in order to direct refugee and migrant flows to official border crossing points. “We do not want to erect walls and we are ready to show solidarity and bear our share of the burden,” he said, adding that a country with the problem of protracted displacement for more than 20 years simply did not have the capacity to be a long-term, mass shelter for migrants.
EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU, President of Zambia, associating himself with the African Group, also aligned himself with the commitments outlined in the outcome document adopted today. Zambia had long been home to refugees from neighbouring countries in the region, as well as from the Horn of Africa. Today, about 23,000 Angolan refugees had been fully integrated in Zambia in addition to about 6,000 former Rwandan refugees. The country provided land for the resettlement of former refugees for farming and other income-generating activities, he said, adding that it intended to relax its encampment policy by easing the process for acquiring urban residency. Reaffirming Zambia’s commitment to maintaining an open-door policy for refugees with regard to employment and education, he said that the Government had also put in place measures for refugees to access work and engage in businesses of their choice. Concluding, he expressed support for the proposed global compact on safe, regular and orderly migration, as well as hope that its consultative process would be held in a transparent and inclusive manner.
RODOLFO NIN NOVOA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, underscored the need to better understand the driving forces behind today’s massive flow of migrants, including economic inequality, poverty, environmental challenges and war. Recalling that international migration had made key contributions to his country’s history, he said Uruguay had signed and ratified all major international treaties and conventions on migration and the protection of human rights. It had also put in place a legal migration framework based on the protection and promotion of human rights, the principle of equal treatment, sociocultural integration, respect for diversity and gender equality. At the regional level, Uruguay was a party to the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees and the 1994 San José Declaration on Refugees and Displaced Persons. Calling for more international instruments to assist countries hosting large numbers of refugees as well as origin countries, he stressed that national migration policies must be non-discriminatory in order to avoid making refugees “victims twice over”. Finally, it was crucial to resolve the problem of stateless persons once and for all.
LAZAR COMANESCU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania, said his country would engage constructively to work towards adoption of the global compacts in 2018 and trusted that, as a new member of the United Nations family, IOM’s potential would be fully used to help develop it. Changing the narrative on migration by countering stereotypes, managing expectations and rallying support around a set of shared values was essential, as was fairly addressing the anxieties of local populations. There was no “one-size fits all” model. Interlinkages between migration and development had to be taken into account and supported by improved international aid architecture. Such efforts should build on other international initiatives and pledges made. Immediate steps were needed to cope with the unfolding crisis at the European Union’s borders. Romania would continue to be part of the European response. While it did not experience a major influx of displaced persons, neither refugees nor migrants, it had and would continue to support international efforts within the European Union and beyond.
HAMAD ELGIZOULI, Commissioner of Refugees of Sudan, said his country’s geographic location had lent itself to witnessing a large number of refugees transiting through the region. Sudan had sought to protect those refugees under all circumstances and currently hosted more than 2 million. Sudan was fully committed to the relevant international and regional instruments pertaining to refugees. The dynamics of the mass movements of people had been exacerbated by mixed migration, illegal migration and the movement of peoples from camps to cities, as well as the phenomenon of human trafficking. He recalled that Khartoum had hosted a conference to address human trafficking in 2014, in coordination with the European Union and African Union, which was followed by the Rome Conference, although he noted that the recommendations of both conferences had not yet been implemented. Further, Sudan had signed a number of agreements with neighbouring countries to control their borders. Emergency situations around the world required donor States to support refugees, while the root causes of conflict must be addressed. Closing borders would not be a solution to the issue. He noted that there were large numbers of Sudanese refugees in Chad, many of which had started to voluntarily return to their homelands.
EDWARD NALBANDIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, recalled that his country had faced the challenges associated with hosting refugees for nearly three decades. He stressed the significance of addressing the root causes of the mass movement of people through conflict prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes. Armenia was deeply concerned by the unrest throughout the Middle East, including the activities of Da’esh and the violence in Syria, among other issues. More than 20,000 Syrian refugees had sought safety in Armenia. The challenge of receiving, accommodating and integrating Syrian refugees into Armenian societies was high on his country’s political agenda. Armenia was committed to doing its utmost to address the challenges of Syrian refugees, although no one State could do so alone.
MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria) said addressing the large movements of refugees and migrants required objective research. Voicing a reservation to the outcome document of the recent World Humanitarian Summit, which Turkish authorities had not allowed his delegation to attend, he also made a reservation to paragraph 19 of today’s Declaration, which addressed Syrian refugees in particular. Indeed, refugees and migrants were flowing from all parts of the world, with Syrians representing only 20 per cent. All must be treated equally. The driving forces behind migration from the Middle East included terrorism by Da’esh, Al-Nusrah Front and other groups, as well as interference in the internal affairs of States, the application of unilateral coercive measures and the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine. Expressing hope that Syrians would soon be able to return to their homes, he rejected all attempts by States to use their plight for political gain. Countries must accept their responsibility to end the phenomenon of terrorist fighters, and must refrain from funding, training and arming those forces. Additionally, he warned against unilateral coercive measures which undermined the livelihoods of Syrians, compelling them to leave home and putting them at risk from human traffickers. He called for a political solution to the Syrian crisis that was free from all external pressures and agendas.
KHEMAIS JHINAOUI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, said the world’s current migration challenges called for solutions based on peace and development. His country had long sought to uphold human rights, and it continued to host hundreds of thousands of Libyans, Syrians and other migrants. Tunisia was implementing a national strategy to guarantee safe and orderly migration and uphold the rights of all migrants, he said, underscoring the need to address the root causes of the phenomenon. Among other things, the international community must work to end the suffering of Palestinian refugees, in line with humanitarian law.
THORBJØRN JAGLAND, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, said that all refugees and migrants should enjoy basic rights, regardless of their status. Without cooperation, European Union member States would only push the issue onto each other, which would only increase the problem. Children were of immediate concern and should not be in detention, but rather should be attending school. Access to accommodation and the protection of unaccompanied minors was of great concern; those young people should have the right to be reunited with their families. Children were the most vulnerable. “I do not believe that the world has understood the depth of the crisis that we are facing,” he said. The crisis was “absolutely unbelievable”, and despite the fact that the world was better organized than ever, it appeared to be more chaotic in its handling of the refugee crisis.
DOMINIQUE PRINCE DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD-MONTBEL, Minister for Health and International Cooperation of the Sovereign Order of Malta, underscored the Order’s assistance to migrants and refugees. Addressing the issue called for consistent and coordinated approaches at the international and national levels. Politicians must assume responsibility for explaining the benefits of migration and refugees as a source of economic growth. He called for long-term development programmes, complemented by emergency aid for immediate suffering, as well as adequate funding and implementation of the recommendations of the World Humanitarian Summit. Immediate action should include the integration of refugees and migrants, fostering respect for human rights and creating work and education opportunities for adults and youth in refugee camps. Failure to agree on such priorities risked causing “radicalization through idleness”. For States and international organizations, immediate action should include opening safe and legal paths into developed countries, discouraging populist attitudes and policies of fear and dealing with migration as a foreign policy issue, not as a border security issue. Successfully tackling the issue meant challenging global indifference, fear and economic selfishness.
HISSA AL-THANI, Envoy of the Secretary-General on Humanitarian Affairs of the League of Arab States, summarizing the outcomes of an extraordinary meeting on refugees and migration at the League’s headquarters in Cairo, emphasized the need for a unified vision. She affirmed the right of return for Palestinian refugees, in line with General Assembly resolution 194 adopted in 1948, saying that 52 per cent of all refugees were Palestinians. Recalling the Declaration of the extraordinary meeting, she called for simplified visa procedures as well as efforts to integrate migration into development policies. The human rights of refugees and migrants needed to be respected, regardless of their legal situation. Dealing with large movements of refugees and migrants must stem from a human rights approach that protected their dignity while taking into consideration the security of countries.
LAMBERTO ZANNIER, Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said the international movement of people had become a deeply contentious issue. However, it was a defining feature of an interconnected world and it could not be addressed as a temporary phenomenon. There needed to be a renewed impetus on humanitarian efforts while at the same time tackling root causes. The difference between refugees and migrants was increasingly blurred. New approaches were needed to respond to changing realities, including climate change. Migration must not become another fault line, he said, emphasizing the need to put human rights at the heart of action on refugees and migration. He noted the commitment of all OSCE members to introduce the Palermo Convention on organized crime into their national legislation in order to address human trafficking. The OSCE would keep working on labour migration policy reform and the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination. States should seize the initiative and set new global principles. The OSCE stood ready to work with other regional organizations and the United Nations to ensure regional application of new global guidelines.
YVES LETERME, Secretary-General of the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), stressed that, along with meeting the immediate needs of migrants and addressing the factors that made them leave, it was critical to promote an effective counter-narrative to xenophobic populism. For that purpose, the opportunities provided to societies by the current crisis must be highlighted. It was possible for migrants and refugees to be new agents of democratization who could at the same time enhance the quality of institutions. Unfortunately, Governments were taking the easy way out of the crisis and reacting to narrow-minded, short-term electoral concerns by restricting movement. “We should reverse such worrisome trends,” he said. A new vision was needed that placed the energy and potential of today’s migrants within the framework of tomorrow’s development opportunities as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda.
SABER CHOWDHURY, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said the world was facing a true human crisis. Displaced persons were often left without a voice. Parliamentarians had a special role to address their needs. He was encouraged by the synergies between the Union and the Summit. “Displaced persons have to be recognized as a multifaceted phenomenon. We have to combat racism and xenophobia in this context,” he said. The challenges of receiving countries had to be equally addressed. Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals would enable more people to remain in their countries while fostering integration. Cooperation with parliamentarians would become increasingly important.
ELHADJ AS SY, Secretary-General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, reminded delegations of the precarious situation refugees found themselves in. The international community must act together to stop violence and humanitarian crises. Countries had to protect human dignity. Access to reliable information was crucial for preventing further violence. Protecting refugees was a shared responsibility. It was necessary to ensure that refugees could travel safely and were able to protect themselves with access to healthcare and legal assistance. States must uphold international agreements to avoid discrimination. Stereotypes must be fought and racism and xenophobia must not be tolerated. His Federation was present during all phases of those crises, and it would continue its work to protect refugees.
MICHAËLLE JEAN, Secretary General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, said today’s proceedings brought back painful memories. Her parents had to flee Haiti for exile in Canada, leaving everything behind so as to escape repression, violence and extreme poverty. Every day, she said, she thought about how lucky she and her family had been to escape that nightmare. Who would have thought one day a young refugee would go on to become Governor-General of Canada and then Secretary-General of La Francophonie, she asked. Others perished at sea, but survivors started over from scratch and rebuilt their lives. She called for a humanist and multilateral approach that would look squarely at reality and understand why in 2015 there had been 65 million forcibly displaced persons. She went on to discuss initiatives undertaken by La Francophone, such as helping the creation of small business in 12 francophone sub-Saharan countries. Large movements of people were not a passing phase and it was urgent to address the issue in a complementary way that took existing initiatives into account.
IRENE KHAN, Director-General of the International Development Law Organization, said that the plight of refugees and migrants was a direct consequence of the failure to uphold the rule of law and human rights. Refugees and migrants had rights even if they did not have documents. “The conventions and treaties, norms and laws are well-established, but not well respected,” she said. She highlighted three keys points: There must be no compromise on the rule of law; development and humanitarian assistance must work in tandem and investing in the rule of law was an integral part of sustainable development, as the 2030 Agenda had made clear. Her organization welcomed the marriage between the United Nations and the IOM.
EMMANUEL ROUX, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), highlighted the organization’s success in preventing further trafficking, terrorism and violence that was often linked to displacement. Terrorist acts were often carried out by refugees and arose from displacement. It was necessary to address the root causes of migration to avoid its negative effects. INTERPOL could help to address the causes of displacement. The organization had expertise in relevant capacity-building and knowledge management to address the challenges that came with cross-border movements, and supported States to help them reduce trafficking of displaced persons and related crimes.
PATRICK GOMES, Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, welcomed the Summit to address discrimination and violence that came with massive migration. The benefits of migration had to be highlighted. Causes of migration and their dire consequences must be addressed, especially as they affected vulnerable groups. He supported international agreements that dealt with the root causes of migration, including climate change and conflict. The Group of States were committed partners in regional mechanisms. Migration also has proven to be beneficial to receiving countries, including by generating income and increasing productivity. He reiterated support for the New York Declaration and concerted international efforts.
PETER MAURER, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), stressed the fundamental relationship between humanity and law. He noted that 41 million internally displaced persons had not crossed a State border, while most refugees were in countries neighbouring places of armed conflict. Unrestrained violence and violations of international humanitarian law were among the main drivers of displacement, he said, referring to today’s brutal attack on a Syrian Red Crescent convoy. Homicide, sexual violence and intimidation also prompted people to move. Joint efforts were needed to ensure better respect for international humanitarian and human right law, while States must ensure that their policies did not create more harm. Having been involved with migrants at every stage of their journey, the ICRC and its Red Cross and Red Crescent partners stood ready to share their knowledge with State policymakers.
MICHAEL SPINDELEGGER, Director-General of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, said that people who did not find safe and humane conditions in places of first refuge would move on. European countries learned that lesson last year. He noted that many countries’ economies would be unable to function without international migration. However, many migrants reached their destination in irregular ways and faced exploitation, xenophobia and discrimination. Today’s challenges were global and so too were opportunities. The New York Declaration was a remarkable and crucial step towards a global framework for protecting refugees and managing migration. The global community had to act and support regardless of where crisis situations emerged, he said, adding that the next two years would be decisive and that his organization stood ready to help Member States going forward.
IYAD AMIN MADANI, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that the international community must be more effective in addressing root causes, protecting refugees and more proactive in preventing crises to avoid mass displacement. International law must be respected and the burden of international humanitarian response shared more evenly. OIC States often bore the brunt of mass displacement. Durable solutions had to be voluntary and, ideally, in a peaceful environment. Refugees must be better protected. The OIC would strengthen its cooperation with the United Nations system and other relevant partners for a more effective humanitarian response.
LHOU LMARBOUH, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, said that the Mediterranean, the birthplace of civilization, had become a mass grave due to mass displacement. Supporting refugees was a major responsibility of the international community. Refugee flows could not be halted. Crises had to be stopped first. Climate migration increasingly became a serious concern and it would result in the mass displacement of millions of people. Social and economic development had to be ensured and climate change would have to be tackled more effectively. Only then could the international community deal with migration appropriately and benefit from it.
JOE THOMAS, Executive Director of Partners in Population and Development, said that the history of civilization was founded on population mobility and his organization was fully committed to the New York Declaration. All human beings were born free and equal and everyone had the right to recognition as a person before the law. He strongly condemned acts of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against refugees and migrants. His organization was committed to working with Member States to combat sexual and gender-based violence and to facilitate access to sexual and reproductive health-care services. He urged all countries to address the vulnerabilities of migrants and refugees to HIV and their specific health needs. “The global community must commit to combating xenophobia, racism, and discrimination in our societies against refugees and migrants, and take measures to improve their integration and inclusion,” he said.
ERNESTO SAMPER PIZANO, Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), said that migrants were affected by the current crisis throughout the world and walls built to divide people were an expression of the lack of humanitarian treatment of migrants. Forced migration was the result of phenomena that human beings had participated in, such as wars and climate change, and had to be examined differently. Migration should be seen as a right because migrants were citizens of the world, not criminals. UNASUR was examining the concept of South American citizenship, since 73 per cent of 430 million South Americans wanted greater mobility within the region.
NARINDER KAKAR, Permanent Observer of the University for Peace, said that education played an important role in maintaining peace, but a majority of refugees had little or no opportunity to pursue higher education. Donor support often came in the form of humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs, relegating education to a secondary plane. The University of Peace was established pursuant to a General Assembly decision with the aim of promoting the spirit of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. It had created a scholarship fund to provide postgraduate education on peace and security-related issues for approximately 100 refugees at its campus in San Jose, Costa Rica. The programme aimed to increase the capacities of refugees by providing them expertise in peace-related issues. There was an urgent need to make funding for humanitarian needs and education accessible at much higher levels than currently available.
JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore), in explanation of position after the adoption of the New York Declaration and its annexes, welcomed the landmark document. Individual States varied in their capacities to respond to the issue and Singapore appreciated that the Declaration affirmed that policies should take into account States’ differing priorities and capabilities.
JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General, speaking after the global premiere screening of a video version of John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, a collaboration between UNICEF, Yoko Ono and David Guetta, said the video proved the power of music and culture. He went on to commend Member States for adopting the New York Declaration, which showed that uniting around core commitments was possible despite differing perspectives. Over the course of the day, many States had highlighted the negative consequences of irregular migration and the strain on countries hosting large numbers of refugees and had agreed to implement a comprehensive response. Several States had shared plans to expand financial assistance, announcing new mechanisms and increased support. A clear-headed and informed policy debate was needed that avoided stigmatizing refugees or migrants. The Secretary-General’s launch that morning of a global campaign to combat xenophobia, “Together — Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”, was receiving broad support.
Shocking images and human stories from violent conflicts and mass displacement had touched everyone, he said, and civil society and the private sector had shown engagement and innovative approaches. Given the urgency of migration challenges, Member States had set critical deadlines. By 2018, they aimed to adopt a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. The United Nations system would mobilize for comprehensive follow-up, an important part of which was bringing IOM into the system as a related organization.
PETER THOMSON, President of the General Assembly, said the high level of participation of Member States reflected the gravity of the situation and a collective commitment to finding human global solutions to the refugee and migrant crisis. “But our actions must not stop here,” he said. Commitments must be swiftly fulfilled, the human rights of refugees and migrants must be protected, and racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance must be countered. Most importantly, the 2030 Agenda must be universally implemented so as to address the root causes of the crisis. He stood ready to work with Member States, the United Nations system, civil society and others to find durable solutions which helped address “this moral imperative of our time”. Reiterating his opening remarks from the morning, he urged Member States to always reach for higher ground on the basis of common humanity and the values of decency and equality.
For information media. Not an official record.