With more people forced to flee their homes than at any time since World War II, global leaders on Monday approved a declaration aimed at providing a more coordinated and humane response to the refugee crisis that has strained resources and stoked divisions from Africa to Europe.
The issue of what to do about the world’s 65.3 million displaced people will take center stage at the General Assembly with leaders from the United Nations’ 193-member states converging on New York for the first-ever summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.
“Today’s summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on leaders to commit to “upholding the rights and dignity of everyone force by circumstance to flee their homes in search of a better life.”
The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants contains no concrete commitments and is not legally binding but rather calls on countries to protect refugees’ human rights, boost humanitarian aid and increase resettlement of refugees.
“If we are able to translate that paper into a response in which many actors are going to participate, we will solve a lot of problems in emergency responses and in long-term refugee situations like the Syrian situation,” Fillipo Grandi, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees told The Associated Press.
The declaration 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.
That may prove an uphill struggle, however, as the declaration comes at a time that refugees and migrants have become a divisive issue in Europe and the United States.[Source: Arab News]