More rights for migrants with new deal, declares UN's Ban

Refugees and migrants will have improved rights, particularly in the areas of education and employment, if a new international agreement on migration is upheld, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday.

More children will be able to attend school, more refugees and migrants will be able to find employment and their other rights will be protected, if the agreement holds, said Ban during the first-ever high-level United Nations summit on migration.

"Today's summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility," Ban said.

By agreeing to the document, world leaders committed to enhance international cooperation and ensure that the rights of migrants and refugees are respected worldwide.

The 193 UN member states adopted the political declaration Monday, committing to better manage the flow of migrants and refugees by ensuring human rights, protecting vulnerable groups and enhancing global responsibility-sharing.

While the non-binding document only reaffirms existing laws and guidelines, it lays the groundwork toward the creation of global frameworks to manage the movement of migrants and refugees to be adopted in two years.

Countries also pledged to boost funding for humanitarian aid and said they would aim to solve the root causes of crises that drive people away from their homes.

"This summit shows that we can find common ground," Ban said. "But the summit will have real meaning only if we all honour the promises made here today."

The UN high commissioner for human rights delivered a powerful warning against xenophobia, saying many people seem to have forgotten the horrors of the world wars.

"The defenders of what is good and right are being outflanked in too many countries by race-baiting bigots," Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said.

Throughout the day, world leaders expressed their national views on migration and the adopted political declaration.

Countries on the forefront of the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe called on the international community to fulfil its commitment to global responsibility-sharing and help shoulder the burden of refugees.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called for increased financial contributions from other countries saying the crisis posed an "unprecedented humanitarian and moral challenge." The number of Syrian refugees in Jordan is equal to 20 per cent of its population.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni Silveri also called for international solidary to find a durable solution, noting that Italy has rescued more than 135,000 people who got stranded in the Mediterranean Sea en route to Europe since the beginning of 2015.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that managing the flow of refugees can only work "on the basis of shared responsibility and solidarity" calling for many more relocations from Greece to other European countries.

Representing the views of destination countries, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg stressed the importance of distinguishing between refugees and economic migrants.

Uncontrolled migration is not in the interest of the migrants or refugees, the countries they leave or travel through or seek to reach, May said.

She added that refugees should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and stressed that countries have the right to protect and manage their borders.

Germany recommended the creation of a permanent emergency fund in the amount of 10 million euros as a way to prevent funding gaps in the assistance of refugees, said Gerd Muller, German minister for economic cooperation and development.

The United States believes there is "no question" that every country needs to do more, said US Secretary of State John Kerry, noting that it was a global responsibility to address root causes of conflict and assist those having to flee their homes.

Kerry called for special attention to the plight of people who are internally displaced in their own countries, urging the UN to appoint a special envoy to better help them.

However, some countries rejected the idea of unconditional burden-sharing.

Gennadiy Gatilov, Russian deputy foreign minister, said the current migration crisis was "largely a consequence of irresponsible intervention in the domestic affairs of sovereign states ... to destabilize them and forcibly oust inconvenient governments."

Gatilov said that countries that "actively contribute to such interventions" should bear the main responsibility for managing refugees and migrants.

Last update: Mon, 19/09/2016 - 23:14

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