09/19/2016, 18.13
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UN’s first summit for the world’s 65 million refugees

The goal is to have 193 member states sign the ‘New York Declaration’, a joint charter to coordinate aid for “refugees and migrants". However, some states might undermine it for “self-serving interests”. Ban Ki-moon reminds the world that 86 per cent of refugees are in the developing world.

New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United Nations General Assembly is meeting today to discuss migration – for the first time in its history – with the goal of having all 193 member states sign the ‘New York Declaration’.

As UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon himself put it, the declaration “sets a principled and pragmatic approach for addressing the challenges of people on the move while upholding our most cherished values.”

Heads of State and Government are set to meet at the United Nations in New York, to approve the joint statement about the most serious emergency in the world since the end of World War II.

The goal is to unify the action of 193 member states and facilitate a coordinated approach to protect the human rights of refugees and migrants.

For UN experts, an agreement could encourage long-term solutions and efficient responses to ongoing emergencies.

However, a joint declaration raises a number of issues, most notably its non-binding character. At the same time, migration has become a source of division between the United States and Europe.

Human rights activists and international NGOs also note that some countries might undermine the summit for their own self-interest regardless of the fate of millions of refugees.

In presenting the meeting, the UN Secretary General said that the refugee issue is among those that are “more susceptible to manipulation by grandstanding demagogues”. In fact, “we see xenophobia rising and too often erupting into violence.”

This is especially true in the industrialised countries. “Contrary to prevailing impressions, the vast majority of refugees are not in rich countries; 86 per cent are in the developing world. And the poorer countries hosting refugees do not receive nearly enough help.”

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 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. Overall, the number of people moving between countries is 244 million.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, refugees are people forced to flee due to armed conflict or persecution, while migrants chose to move in search of a better life.

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