STATEMENT COMES AS WORLD LEADERS, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND CIVIL SOCIETY PREPARE FOR THE UNITED NATIONS SUMMIT ON REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS.
Washington, D.C. - On September 19th 2016, ARCS will be attending the first ever United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which will address the large movements of refugees and migrants around the world. The summit, being held at the UN General Assembly in New York, will feature various heads of state, foreign ministers, and numerous civil society and NGO groups. According to the UNHCR, the meeting is planned to be a “game changer” in the protection of refugees forcibly displaced from their homes, or migrants fleeing their nations. At a news conference on September 6th, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said at the moment “there seems to be huge momentum towards trying to make the 19th of September a really meaningful summit that will be a game changer for refugee protection and for migrants who are on the move.” Flemings noted the commitments for the summit have already been agreed upon by the 193 Member States of the United Nations. Once adopted, these commitments – which range from States declaring solidarity for people who were forcibly displaced from their homes; reaffirming their obligations to full respect of the human rights of refugees and migrants and pledging support to nations affected by large movements of refugees and migrants – will be known as the New York Declaration.
In addition, the declaration seeks to combat xenophobia that targets refugees and migrants, as well as provide increasing support for the communities hosting the displaced refugees. The commitments stress the need to provide early, primary and secondary education for displaced persons as well as increasing the development of host communities to create more job opportunities, and generate income. UNHCR claims the New York Declaration “signals a shift beyond a mainly humanitarian response to refugee movements – usually in itself, severely underfunded – to a broader, systematic and more sustainable response to help refugees and the communities hosting them.” According to the UNHCR, there are estimated to be about 40.8 million people around the world that have been displaced from their homes but are confined within their country. In addition to this, there are 21.3 million global refugees – the highest in recorded history.
ARCS attendance to the Summit is extremely important given the situation in Syria. The Syrian conflict is considered the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation, and it has generated the biggest displacement crisis since the Second World War. The nation leads with one of highest number of people internally displaced at an astounding of 6.7 million people. The UNHCR also considers Syria as the largest producer of refugees with an estimate of 4.9 million refugees seeking asylum in other countries. ARCS member organizations have been working to mitigate the humanitarian costs of the Syrian crisis and providing assistance for thousands of Syrian refugees, but more needs to be done by the international community.
This month, ARCS celebrated the arrival of the 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States. As we work with our member organizations seeking to deliver assistance and relief to besieged areas in Syria and to Syrian refugees, ARCS hopes that a New York Declaration will create a positive impact in the refugees and displaced people across the globe, and shares the goal of increasing protection for Syrian refugees. We are pleased with the initiative of the first UN Summit for refugees and migrants, and we urge states to focus on the rights of refugees and internally displaced people. We certainly hope the the United Nations Summit will be a milestone in refugee and migrants protection. We will be there, showing our support to refugees, and pushing for key commitments to enhance protection.