Thu | Sep 21, 2017

UN holds first-ever summit on refugees and migrants

Published:Monday | September 19, 2016 | 9:00 AM
In this Aug. 13, 2015 file photo, a man carries a girl in his arm as they arrive with other migrants just after dawn on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to the island of Kos in southeastern Greece.

UNITED NATIONS (AP):

The issue of what to do about the world's 65.3 million displaced people takes center stage at the United Nations General Assembly today when leaders from around the globe converge on New York for the first-ever summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.

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.

 

UPHILL STRUGGLE

 

"It's very interesting because 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.

That may prove an uphill struggle, however, as the document is not legally binding and comes at a time that refugees and migrants have become a divisive issue in Europe and the United States.

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 a number of human rights groups to criticise 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.

"Instead of sharing responsibility, world leaders shirked it. The UN summit has been sabotaged by states acting in self-interest, leaving millions of refugees in dire situations around the world on the edge of a precipice," Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a statement.