UN organized first-ever summit on movement of 65.3 million refugees and migrants. Global leaders gathered for the first of two high-profile days of meetings on the issues of migration and refugees at the U.N. headquarters in New York. This meeting attempted to forge a global response to the plight of the 65.3 million people forcibly displaced worldwide.
About Refugee and Migrants:
A refugee is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Such a person may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting state or the UNHCR if they formally make a claim for asylum.
- The lead international agency coordinating refugee protection is the United Nations Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The United Nations have a second Office for refugees, which is the UNRWA. This however is solely responsible for supporting Palestinian refugees.
- Following World War II and in response to the large numbers of people fleeing Eastern Europe, the UN 1951 Refugee Convention adopted the following definition of “refugee” to apply to any person who (in Article 1.A.2).
- “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”.
- With more people forced to flee their homes than at any time since World War II, leaders and diplomats are expected to approve a document aimed at unifying the UN’s 193 member states behind a more coordinated approach that protects the human rights of refugees and migrants.
The meet seeks to standardize responses to refugee situations and provide better education and jobs to refugees. It also encourages resettlement and includes plans for a campaign to combat xenophobia.
- A number of countries rejected an earlier draft of the agreement that called on nations to resettle 10 percent of the refugee population each year, something that has led several human rights groups to criticize the document as a missed opportunity.
- The US and a number of other countries also objected to language in the original draft that said children should never be detained, so the agreement now says children should seldom, if ever, be detained.
- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report on refugees and migrants laid the basis for the summit document. It is noted that from Syria alone, nearly 5 million refugees have crossed the Syrian border trying to seek safety from barrel bombs and chemical weapons attacks and terrorist attacks.
- It is noted that an “unprecedented” 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, an increase of more than 5 million from a year earlier. They include 21.3 million refugees, 3.2 million asylum seekers, and 40.8 million migrants.
World Leaders Adopt Breakthrough Declaration On Refugees At UN
Leaders from 193 countries adopted a “breakthrough” declaration to save lives of over 65 million refugees and migrants and share responsibility as the world grapples with the unprecedented refugee crisis.
Objective: To save lives of over 65 million refugees and migrants and share responsibility as the world grapples with the unprecedented refugee crisis.
- The declaration is not legally binding and lacks concrete commitments but calls on countries to protect refugees’ human rights, boost humanitarian aid and work on their resettlement.
- This agreement will help more children can attend school; more workers can securely seek jobs abroad, instead of being at the mercy of criminal smugglers, and more people will have real choices about whether to move once we end conflict, sustain peace and increase opportunities at home.
By adopting the declaration, Member States are making bold commitments including:
- To start negotiations leading to an international conference and the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018;
- To develop guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations;
- To achieve a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees by adopting a global compact on refugees in 2018.
A new campaign called ‘Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All’ to ‘respond to rising xenophobia and turn fear into hope’ launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also known as the UN Refugee Agency is a United Nations programme mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.
- Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.
- The UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes