Hospitality Extended to Refugees Must Not Be Taken for Granted, Host Countries Caution as Third Committee Explores Responsibility-Sharing Options

Warning that the hospitality extended to refugees by developing countries should not be taken for granted, delegates in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) called today for a whole-of-globe approach to ensure that all countries do their fair share, as they continued their debate on the promotion and protection of human rights.

Turkey’s representative said States bearing the brunt of mass refugee influxes rightly expect the international community to share the burden and responsibility. As the world’s largest host of refugee, Turkey would welcome more countries assuming their moral, political and legal responsibilities for the sake of humanity and human dignity. The Global Compact on Refugees � to come before the General Assembly in December, alongside the annual resolution of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees � represents a great window of opportunity in that regard.

Recalling that her country has been among the top refugee-hosting countries for four decades, Iran’s representative said the Global Compact should promote solidarity and include complementary mechanisms to ensure burden and responsibility are shared in a predictable, equitable, efficient and effective manner. Further, a voluntary and periodic national reporting component should be established, allowing States to report costs incurred.

Outlining steps taken to host refugees in a human and efficient manner, Mexico’s delegate said the Regional Framework for Protection and Solutions reflects her country’s commitment to the Global Compact. The framework fosters refugees’ social integration, as well as facilitates their access to the labour market, education and health care. With help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mexico managed the refugee influxes from Central America through an identification and registration process that informs asylum seekers of their rights and identifies persons who are vulnerable or require specific attention.

For her part, Thailand’s delegate described her country’s cooperation with Myanmar in the voluntary return of hundreds of that country’s displaced, who were beneficiaries of livelihood programmes and other services. Thailand’s progress in the status-determination process has been recognized by UNHCR, and standardized procedures barring indefinite detention of migrant children are being put in place. To reduce statelessness, Thailand supports the issuance of a birth certificate for all children born in the country.

Serbia’s delegate said the country’s support for people forced to flee their homes predates the current migration crisis: hundreds of thousands of people from the former Yugoslavia had found refuge in Serbia during the 1990s, as had 230,000 internally displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija. As a transit country, Serbia invests substantial human and financial resources to manage the crisis, she said, notably by providing health protection, accommodation, food, medicine and information on asylum.

Monaco’s delegate similarly said her country had joined an initiative working to elaborate a protection agenda for people displaced across borders in the context of disaster and climate change. As more than half of the 16.2 million people who became refugees in 2017 were under age 18, how can we not be alarmed by 10 million young people left to themselves? she asked.

Also speaking were the representatives of Afghanistan, Syria, Spain, Egypt, Mali, Sudan, Japan, Germany, Ukraine, China, Azerbaijan, Algeria and Morocco, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Third Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 November to consider the report of the Human Rights Council.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights. For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4247.

Statements

MUNIRA FAIZZAD (Afghanistan) said that globally, there are more than 25 million refugees, 6 million of whom are Afghans. Most of them are young people with the capacity to play a constructive role in the country. Committed to their well being, the Government devised an action plan for returnees and internally displaced persons � a series of programmes to protect these populations. It has also accelerated efforts to provide job opportunities to returnees, and in the last three years, increased the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations budget by 70 per cent. Yet, Afghans remain the second largest refugee population in the world: thus, addressing the cause of conflict is essential, he said, noting that the Taliban have yet to show their readiness to engage in lasting peace.

ZAHRA ERSHADI (Iran) said the responsibility to assist refugees cannot and shall not be the burden of a few countries or regions. The hospitality extended by a few developing States for several decades cannot be taken for granted and is no excuse for others to evade their responsibilities. Recalling that Iran has been among the top refugee hosting countries for four decades, she emphasized that unlawful sanctions imposed by the United States and its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action have had adverse effects on refugees living in Iran. The Global Compact on Refugees should promote solidarity among Member States and provide support to host countries and communities, while respecting national sovereignty. Rather than a crisis management tool, it should serve as a path towards sustainable solutions to the refugee crises. The Global Compact must include complementary mechanisms to ensure burden and responsibility are shared in a predictable, equitable, efficient and effective manner. Further, a voluntary and periodic national reporting component should be established, allowing all States to report costs incurred and contributions made to host refugees.

Mr. ALKHALIL (Syria), recalling that the crisis of refugees and internally displaced persons reflects the situation of Syrians, encouraged all Syrians living outside the country to return. Some Western countries seek to impede and complicate their return by politicizing humanitarian efforts. He called on Syrians to return, recalling that areas have been liberated from terrorists. He also called for an end to the aggression against Syrians, noting that forced unilateral procedures by some countries are destroying infrastructure, and thus, forcing Syrians to seek better lives elsewhere. He cautioned against politicizing humanitarian efforts, and reiterated the call to end hatred and racism against Syrians.

Mr. GUTIERREZ-SEGU (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said 2017 was a critical year given the increase in the number of internally displaced persons to 68.5 million. Noting that Spain has contributed Euros 1 million to the Global Response Framework on Refugees and the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework for Central America and Mexico, he said the Government also recently ratified the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. Noting its endorsement of the Global Compact on Refugees, he valued the link with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its principle of Leaving no one behind. He stressed the importance of the multidimensional and multi actor approach to find lasting solutions.

MOHAMED ABDELRAHMAN MOHAMED MOUSSA (Egypt), associating himself with the African Group, said the recent finalization of the Global Compact on Refugees is a strong indication of the political will to move towards more equitable burden- and responsibility sharing, taking into account States’ different resource and development levels. The framework laid out in the Global Compact will also help countries hosting refugees receive support that is timely, predictable and sustainable, maximizing development cooperation alongside � and as a complement to, not a replacement for � humanitarian assistance. Ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises in Africa and the Middle East have raised concerns about the treatment of refugees, who have become the victims of xenophobia, exploitation and discrimination. He underlined the need to protect refugees in accordance with international law, and voiced concern over the shrinking asylum space in some developed countries.

ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) pointed out that more than half of the 16.2 million people who became refugees in 2017 were under the age of 18. How can we not be alarmed by 10 million young people left to themselves? she added. Monaco has made a voluntary financial contribution to the Office of UNHCR every year since 1961. It also joined the Group of Friends of the Nansen Initiative, which seeks to elaborate a protection agenda for people displaced across borders in the context of disasters and climate change. Following a visit to the country by the High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, Monaco decided to host several refugee families, which were aided by social services and taught French. The Government also covered their health care and housing costs and welcomed refugee children in its schooling institutions.

MOUSSA DOLLO (Mali), associating himself with the African Group, said factors, such as increasing insecurity, intercommunal violence, poverty and climate change, explained the degree of displacement his country has experienced. If the State is unable to ensure peace and provide basic services, it will not be possible to reverse this trend. Mali is working to implement the peace accord in a diligent and inclusive manner, he assured. Given the humanitarian urgency, Mali has adopted measures to improve living conditions and reduce vulnerabilities in concerned regions. Internally displaced persons enjoy material and financial support through four regional emergency intervention plans targeting Tombouctou, Gao, Kidal and Mopti. He called for additional resources to assist the return of displaced or repatriated persons.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), endorsing the statement by the African Group, said 2 million refugees from various regions have reached Sudan, given its geographical position. The Government enacted a national law on the situation of refugees, in line with international conventions and agreements. The phenomenon of mixed migration has led to smuggling and human trafficking, he said, drawing attention to Sudan’s adoption of rules to combat those practices and hosting of a conference in Khartoum in July. Stressing that voluntary return is the most important solution for improving the situation of refugees, he said the Darfur region is currently witnessing to refugee returns. His country now aspires to cooperate with UNHCR and the international community in achieving lasting peace.

ANNA SUZUKI (Japan) expressed concern that the civil war in Syria is entering its eighth year, stressing that displaced people must safely return, especially as 5 million refugees are being accommodated by neighbouring countries. In addition, he commended Bangladesh for its continued generous acceptance of and assistance to displaced persons from Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and voiced respect for Bangladesh’s efforts to reach a solution. In addition, sub-Saharan Africa hosts the highest number of people targeted for UNHCR support. The number of refugees is on the rise, and situations are becoming protracted. It is crucial for the international community to act in humanitarian and peace initiatives.

KARIN GOEBEL (Germany) said more equitable burden- and responsibility-sharing is indispensable to resolving the global refugee situation. Calling the completion of the Global Compact on Refugees a seminal achievement, she said there is now a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring that instrument to life by adopting the related resolution. A real difference in the lives of millions of refugees, and those hosting them, will be achieved only through collective efforts, she said, encouraging all States to affirm the Global Compact.

Ms. LEMUS (Mexico) said States must implement responses based on cooperation and responsibility- and burden-sharing. Mexico’s implementation of the Comprehensive Regional Framework for Protection and Solutions reflects its commitment to the Global Compact. This framework fosters refugees’ social integration, as well as facilitates their access to the labour market, education and health care. Mexico collaborates with UNHCR to bolster an asylum system that is humane and efficient, while addressing refugees’ needs and safeguarding their rights. With UNHCR’s help, Mexico managed the refugee influxes from Central America through an identification and registration process, aiming to inform asylum seekers of their rights and identify persons who are vulnerable or require specific attention.

Ms. HORBACHEVA (Ukraine) said, according to national legislation, persons recognized as refugees or in need of protection enjoy the same rights and freedoms and have the same obligations � as Ukrainian citizens, including access to education, employment and health services. Ukraine takes part in a UNHCR project known as Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, she said, adding that about 1.5 million people residing in Ukraine have been registered as internally displaced persons. The root cause of the massive internal displacement and dire humanitarian situation in Ukraine, in particular in conflict-affected areas, is the ongoing Russian hybrid war waged against my country, she stressed. The situation is further complicated by the Russian Federation’s occupying authorities’ denial of humanitarian access to the occupied territories � temporarily out of Ukraine’s control � in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well as Crimea.

CHU GUANG (China) said the situation of refugees is more dire than ever, as some host countries are under social and financial pressure, the question of refugees has become more politicized. Noting that the global refugee crisis must be addressed under a multilateral framework, he said the Global Compact for Refugees is an important multilateral step to resolve this issue, notably as it advances cooperation. The principle of common and differentiated responsibilities should be respected when addressing the causes, he said, as must the principles of objectivity and neutrality, which should not be used as tools for interference.

Ms. PHASUPHAN (Thailand), affirming that collective efforts are needed now more than ever to address displacement, described her country’s cooperation with Myanmar in the voluntary return of hundreds of that country’s displaced, who were also beneficiaries of livelihood programmes and other services. She noted that Thailand’s progress in the status-determination process has been recognized by UNHCR, and that standardized procedures barring indefinite detention of migrant children are being put in place. To reduce statelessness, the Government supports the issuance of a birth certificate for all children born in the country. She encouraged all countries to do their part in hosting refugees, noting that low- and middle-income countries still shoulder a large proportion of the burden. For that reason, she looked forward to the adoption and implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees.

MARIJA PERISIC (Serbia) said the country’s support for people forced to flee their homes predates the current migration crisis, as hundreds of thousands of people from the former Yugoslavia had found refuge in Serbia during the 1990s, as had 230,000 internally displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija. Serbia responded in a timely manner to the current challenge of mixed migration from the beginning. As a transit country, Serbia continues to invest substantial human and financial resources to manage the refugee crisis, she said, noting that the Government provides health protection, accommodation, food, medicine and information on asylum. Only 1.9 per cent of people displaced from Serbia’s southern province, Kosovo, and Metohija, achieved sustainable return after 19 years of displacement, as the process is tenuous and hard to sustain. She anticipated greater cooperation with UNHCR and other relevant partners.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) expressed deep concern over the magnitude of the refugee situation. Internally displaced persons represent more than two-thirds of the global refugee population, with their situation far from satisfactory. No country is excluded from internal displacement. Azerbaijan fully supports internally displaced persons by raising awareness and mainstreaming their rights into the United Nations system. He stressed the importance of establishing more protection systems. Azerbaijan is also affected by internal displacement through the issue of occupied territory, he said, highlighting that new houses provided by the Government will reach 300,0000 by the end of the year. Measures to alleviate the plight of internally displaced persons should not viewed as permanent, he said.

Mr. SAHRAOUI (Algeria), noting the world has seen a great increase in the number of people who fled their countries, stressed that 85 per cent of them are in developing countries. Africa in particular continues to host a great number of internally displaced persons, refugees and stateless people. Equitable responsibility- and burden-sharing are necessary, and the Global Compact on Refugees must be adopted in the spirit of international solidarity. Algeria is surprised UNHCR’s report does not include a separate chapter on North Africa, a land of host and transit countries, he said, calling for this omission to be rectified in future reports. Algeria reaffirms its commitment to the self-determination of the Sahrawi community, to ensure they live in a dignified manner, and reiterates its call on the international community, especially donor countries, to provide more aid to refugees.

HANAA BOUCHIKHI (Morocco) said official Moroccan figures show that 90,000 Sahrawi people live in camps, reaffirming the importance of registering refugees. Noting that Africa is affected by an influx of internally displaced persons, she welcomed efforts in sub-Saharan Africa but expressed concern over insufficient funding, despite much donor support. Reiterating that host countries should allow registration of internally displaced persons, she said that some object to a census as they seek to use people for economic, political and financial purposes. Registration is an absolute necessity, she asserted.

Ms. DURAN, International Committee of the Red Cross, said that as internal displacement is becoming increasingly urban, it is important to understand the extent to which efforts are succeeding. Having interviewed various communities, she expressed regret that responses are still inadequate for meeting the needs of people internally displaced outside camps, she said, citing an overreliance on generic responses, rigid planning, funding gaps and unreliable data. It is more difficult to identify people living outside camps. Blanket solutions are partly to blame for creating the same challenges for those living outside camps as the urban poor, she said, noting that this is not universally true and must be tested against local realities. Municipal authorities and private-sector donors should team up to address urban internal displacement with tailored solutions. New approaches are also needed to better help displaced persons in cities.

AYSE INANC-ORNEKOL (Turkey), calling for more attention to the causes of today’s displacement crisis, stressed that displaced persons need more than just emergency response. They require protection in which their rights are respected and they are both able to benefit from and contribute to development. No one country can cope with migration challenges alone, and those States bearing the brunt of mass refugee influxes rightly expect the international community to show the needed solidarity and act with greater sensitivity in to burden- and responsibility-sharing. As the world’s largest refugee hosting country, Turkey welcomes the Global Compact on Refugees, which presents a great window of opportunity and a refreshed spirit on refugee matters. It is important to preserve that whole of globe approach � as well as the notions of international solidarity and burden sharing � on the top of the international agenda, she said, expressing hope that more countries will begin to assume their moral, political and legal responsibilities for the sake of humanity and human dignity.

Source: United Nations