Switzerland: UNHCR to host meeting on large movements of refugees

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - As the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) leads a process to develop a Global Compact on Refugees, an international meeting in Geneva on Monday, 10 July, will explore what can be learnt from past and current examples of sharing responsibility for large movements of refugees.

Last year’s New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2016, called on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to develop a global compact on refugees, in consultation with States and other stakeholders.

It is due to be presented to the UN General Assembly for consideration in 2018, UNHCR spokesperson Ms Ariane Rummery told a press briefing in Geneva on Friday.

She said Monday’s meeting at the Palais des Nations in Geneva is the first in a series of thematic discussions being held this year to inform development of the global compact.  

It brings together some 300 participants, from governments, international organizations, NGOs, academics and other experts.  

This first discussion will focus on one of the key issues addressed in the New York Declaration, in which 193 States made a milestone commitment to ‘a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees’.

The meeting will examine elements of past and present examples which have been most effective in protecting refugees and sharing responsibilities more equitably among States, Ms Rummery said.

Clandestine departures, risky boat journeys, push backs, threats to close borders by countries fearful of the destabilizing effects of large waves of refugees are not new. Many of the challenges we grapple with in refugee protection today have been managed before.    

Ms Rummery said the international community has come together and forged agreements to preserve asylum for people fleeing danger, to share the burden of hosting refugees among States, to bolster peace agreements with development support, and to ensure refugees returning home get targeted help to rebuild their lives.  

She said Monday’s conference will look at three past examples:  the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees (CPA) of 1989; the International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA) of 1989; and the Humanitarian Evacuation Programme (HEP) and Humanitarian Transfer Programme (HTP) (1999) for refugees from Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999).

Monday’s thematic discussions will also examine current arrangements to share responsibility for large movements of refugees.    

This includes the Syria refugee response, which since 2015 has been led through a combined ‘refugee and resilience’ plan jointly coordinated by UNHCR and UNDP.  

Ms Rummery said increasing development support for host countries and communities has been a key component, as well as expanding opportunities for resettlement and other pathways for admission to third countries.  

Other current arrangements to be discussed at the meeting include the response frameworks for the Afghan and Somali refugee situations, and commitments by Latin American countries to improve protection and prospects of solutions for refugees, displaced and stateless people in the region under the 2014 Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action.

"UNHCR hopes the thematic discussions will draw out a set of actions, good practices and lessons for States and others to inform the development of the programme of action, which the High Commissioner will propose as part of the Global Compact on Refugees, at the core of which is the comprehensive refugee response framework already agreed to by UN Member States in the New York Declaration."

Ms Rummery said the programme of action will build on the commitments made in the New York Declaration and seek to make future comprehensive responses to large-scale refugee situations more predictable and equitable.
-0- PANA MA 7July2017

07 july 2017 11:23:03

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