UNITED NATIONS, New York, 21 September 2015 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- All countries must contribute to solving the global refugee crisis, whether they have the luxury of distance or face the challenges of proximity. The international community has an unequivocal obligation towards the women, men and children seeking refuge from conflict and violence, the President of the UN General Assembly said today, the International Day of Peace.
At his first press conference since taking office as the President of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly last Tuesday, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft called on the Member States of the United Nations to urgently live up to their international obligations and to take courageous decisions to address the needs of refugees around the world.
“The world has not seen a global humanitarian crisis of this magnitude since the Second World War and with winter approaching in the northern hemisphere, it is only going to get worse,” he warned.
“The tragic stories and heart-breaking images we are seeing in the media are only the tip of the iceberg – the manifestation of much bigger issues which only multilateral cooperation and global leadership can solve. This is a global crisis. And it requires a global solution.
“Rich countries should either welcome more refugees or give more funds to supporting them, and preferably both. Saying no to both is not an option,” he added.
The General Assembly has declared 21 September as the International Day of Peace — a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All”.
Mr Lykketoft has spent his first week in office discussing the global refuge crisis with a number of concerned Member States and intends to shortly convene a meeting of the General Assembly on this issue, building on a high-level meeting being organised by the UN Secretary-General on 30 September.
“The majority of people fleeing war and violence are refugees and have the right to seek asylum without any form of discrimination. It is not a crime to seek refuge and asylum. The future of millions of women, men and children are at stake. We need to ensure that our responses are tangible, focused and that we work towards lasting, sustainable solutions.”
Mr. Lykketoft said he intended to discuss the issue with Pope Francis during his visit to the UN on Friday. He will also bring it to the direct attention of the more than 160 Heads of State and Government who will be attending the General Debate.
“The situation of refugees and migrants crossing into Europe from the Middle East and Africa is of serious concern to me. I have already stressed the individual and collective responsibility of European states to respond responsibly and humanely. I also encourage other countries to demonstrate their sense of humanity and participate in voluntary resettlement programmes,” Mr. Lykketoft noted on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean basin.
“We need to ensure that countries affected by the arrival of refugees, particularly Syria’s neighbouring countries, receive the support and assistance necessary to address the needs of these vulnerable populations. We also need to ensure that UN and relief agencies working closely with refugees in the region have the needed funding to fully and promptly carryout their support to those in need.
“The United Nations was created 70 years ago with the fundamental purpose of promoting peace, protecting vulnerable populations and ensuring their human rights. If we continue to idle and hesitate, we will fail those we are entrusted to protect,” he said.
Distributed by the African Media Agency on behalf of the United Nations General Assembly.
Note to Correspondents: The President of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly H.E. Mogens Lykketoft will give a press conference in the press briefing room S-237 at the United Nations in New York at 1pm EST on Monday 21 September. Broadcast quality video and audio is available. Live webcast is at http://webtv.un.org/live/
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