8504th Security Council Meeting: Briefing by UNHCR

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09-Apr-2019 01:51:17
Efforts to tackle global displacement crisis ‘fragmented’, refugee agency chief tells Security Council, saying they address mere symptoms, not root causes at 8504th meeting.

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With the ongoing displacement of nearly 70 million people around the world driven mostly by conflict, the Security Council has a crucial role to play in resolving the resultant global crisis, the head of the United Nations refugee agency said as he briefed the 15-member organ today.

“If conflicts were prevented or resolved, most refugee flows would disappear,” said Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, describing current approaches to peace-making as fragmented, addressing only symptoms rather than root causes. The Council can help to resolve security crises, support countries hosting refugees and remove obstacles, he added.

The need for unified Security Council action to end the current military escalation in Libya, he continued, is vital. He went on to recall that, in his three decades as an international civil servant working for refugees, he has seen much solidarity and heroism, but never such toxicity in the language of politics, media — including social media — and in every‑day conversations. Firm and organized responses are needed, he emphasized.

As Council members took the floor, Equatorial Guinea’s representative spoke also on behalf of Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa, emphasizing the need for long‑term strategies to address the structural causes that drive conflict. Noting that Africa is home to more than one third of the world’s displaced persons, he said the African Union has committed to specific measures through the decision by its Heads of State to declare 2019 the year of refugees, returnees and the internally displaced.

Some Council members stressed the link between security and development. Indonesia’s representative pointed out that his country, a non-State party to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees — also known as the 1951 Refugee Convention — hosts more than 14,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from 47 countries. Resettlement is a starting point from which refugees can contribute to the development of host countries, he said, emphasizing: “Resettlement is certainly not a threat to any society.”

Other members emphasized the importance of the Global Compact on Refugees, adopted in December 2018, in promoting greater international cooperation to tackle the global refugee crisis. The representative of the United States described the Compact as vital in helping to share the displacement burden. While noting his country’s standing as the largest humanitarian donor, he pointed out that the current refugee needs outpace the capacity of any single donor.

The Russian Federation’s representative said the difficult refugee situation in Europe is due in large part to irresponsible interference in the internal affairs of States in the Middle East and North Africa. About 1,000 refugees are returning to Syria every day, mainly from Lebanon and Jordan, he noted, while emphasizing that the bulk of international assistance is going towards keeping Syrian refugees on a “humanitarian drip” within camps outside the country, including Rukban.

Also speaking today were representatives of China, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Poland, Peru, Kuwait, France, Belgium and Germany.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:02 p.m.

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