Thursday, 9/4/2020 | 5:48 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Governments Must Work Harder, Adopt Fresh Ways to Welcome Epic Waves of Refugees Fleeing War, Hunger, Secretary-General Tells Development Committee

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the ninety-third meeting of the Development Committee, in Washington, D.C., today:

I am deeply honoured to once again have the opportunity to address the Development Committee.  Last year, we focused together on the importance of ensuring the successful passage of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Thanks in large measure to your support, world leaders adopted the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, with 17 integrated and comprehensive Sustainable Development Goals.  Your continued support and engagement will be crucial to ensuring the successful implementation of this game-changing agenda.

We join forces today to discuss an issue that is integral to that success — addressing the global challenge of forced displacement.  As you know, the number of forcibly displaced people around the globe has reached epic proportions, with over 60 million people forced to flee their homes due to conflict and violence.

The ongoing refugee crisis and migration challenges are straining the European continent.  We are seeing serious challenges to the implementation of the EU [European Union]-Turkey agreement, with a number of human rights concerns being voiced.

Xenophobia is on the rise, and Governments are scrambling to find a response in line with international and EU law.  When it comes to managing large movements of migrants and refugees, there is much room for improvement in international cooperation, not only in Europe, but globally.

We saw this in the Andaman Sea last spring, when thousands of migrants and refugees were pushed back from territorial waters in unsafe boats.  We are seeing it in Central America, where thousands of women and children are on the run from the armed gangs and generalized violence.  The chaos in Libya and Yemen is similarly causing thousands of people to run for their lives.  Food insecurity, conflict, climate change, lack of opportunities and governance failures are also contributing to large migration flows across the African continent, including the Horn of Africa.

Member states are struggling for solutions.  The unfortunate responses are often shutting borders, detaining asylum seekers and migrants, pushbacks and refoulement.  Supporting States in addressing large movements of refugees and migrants is an issue ripe for more concerted multilateral action.  We must strengthen international cooperation mechanisms and boost our collective work.

It is for this reason that I have worked with the membership of the United Nations to have the United Nations General Assembly call a leader’s Summit on 19 September to move forward on this issue.  Next month, we will also convene the World Humanitarian Summit, which will feature both a high-level round table on forced displacement, and a special session on migration.

At the same time, we must boldly move to implement the SDGs, which will address many of the root causes of these large movements, build resilience and promote well-managed migration policies.  The 2030 Agenda will also strengthen the capacity of host States to integrate large numbers of refugees and migrants.

Let me quickly point to six areas for immediate action.  First, we need to counter xenophobic narratives and ensure that the positive contributions that refugees and migrants make to our societies are acknowledged and understood.  Second, we must share responsibilities more equitably, more predictably and more transparently.

Third, we must better support countries that are hosting large numbers of refugees, including through your excellent new initiative of offering concessional loans to middle-income countries hosting large refugee populations.  Fourth, we must create safe, orderly and regular pathways for refugees and others migrants in need.

Fifth, our fight against traffickers and smugglers must yield better results, and we must support States in enhancing their cooperation in this area.  And sixth, we must avoid diverting resources from long-term development, and make sure that development and humanitarian financing work hand in hand.  This will ensure a sustainable response from day one, freeing more resources in the long-term for supporting least developed countries, as pledged in the Addis Agenda.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, our shared challenge and obligation is to address mass population movements while maintaining our commitment to sustainable development.  Let me repeat:  implementing the 2030 Agenda in all its aspects will help to address the root causes of displacement and prevent mass population movements from occurring in the first place.

These are extraordinary times.  Never before has the issue of forced displacement ranked so high on the international agenda.  I count on this important committee to develop fresh approaches and to take bold steps in addressing these challenges.