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UN Refugee Summit: “No Cause for Comfort” 0

New York – With record numbers of forcibly displaced persons around the world, many were left disappointed by the outcome of a high level UN summit designed to address the issue by bringing together world leaders on the sidelines of the UN’s annual General Assembly.

During the first-ever summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, global leaders approved adeclaration that aims to implement a more coordinated, comprehensive and humane refugee response.

“Today’s Summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his opening address to delegates.

When the document is translated into action, more children can access education, more workers can seek jobs, and more people will have choices regarding mobility, Ban added.

However, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein cautioned against optimism, stating: “When millions of people see freedom’s invitation only through the flapping canvas of a tent; when they carry their children and possession on their backs, walking hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles; when they and their families risk drowning, and are kept cramped in appalling detention centres and, once released, risk abuse by racists and xenophobes. There is no cause for comfort here.”

“The bitter truth is that this summit was called because we have been largely failing…it is shameful the victims of abominable crimes should be made to suffer further by our failures to give them protection,” he continued.

More than 65 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes, a population equivalent to the 21st largest country. According to a report by Save the Children, this imaginary country would have the fastest growing population in the world, rank nearly last in school attendance, and have alarmingly high rates of child marriage.

Numerous refugees themselves took part in the Summit, urging member states to act in light of such dire circumstances.

Addressing the summit was Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad Basee Taha who was one of over 5,000 Yazidi women enslaved by Islamic State. Once Murad escaped, she found her way to Germany as a refugee.

“You must know as leaders that whatever you do will impact either positively or negatively on the lives of simple people…you are the ones to decide whether another girl in another part of the world will be able to live a simple life or live in suffering and bondage,” she told attendees. “You and your families are not the only ones to deserve life, we deserve life too.”

Syrian refugee and Team Coordinator for Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands (SYVNL) Mohammed Badran particularly highlighted the need to enhance access to education and other opportunities in order for refugees to rebuild their lives and contribute back to society. “If today world leaders are unable to find a solution for the Syrian crisis and the refugee crisis, then this summit is no different from the rest,” he said.

Continue reading on IPS Africa

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

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