Urgent international call to protect migrants and refugees
Caritas Internationalis and Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) are calling for concrete change within the United Nations system and a shared commitment by all states and public and private stakeholders to ensure migrants and refugees are protected.
In a statement ahead of the first ever UN summit on migrants and refugees in New York, the two global networks emphasised that priority must be given to those fleeing harm, particularly women and children. This means ensuring full respect for international refugee and human rights law in responding to migrants’ and refugees’ needs.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Michel Roy said, “The challenge of the solidarity crisis in responding to large movements of migrants and refugees is massive and the international community is struggling to find an adequate long-term solution. But this challenge presents a unique opportunity to review the humanitarian system as it stands and re-imagine a blueprint for a more effective international response.”
War, inequality, poverty, climate change and persecution have driven more people from their homes than at any other time since the founding of the UN with over 65 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide. This includes over 21 million refugees, three million asylum-seekers and over 40 million internally displaced persons. This makes forced migration one of the major challenges of our lifetimes. Many people are exploited and more and more forms of exploitation exist.
All UN member states must express a clear commitment to protect and safeguard the rights of the displaced and these nations must act on these commitments swiftly through implementation of national policies. Safe and responsible migration policies, agreed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), must ensure migration as a choice, not a necessity.
States need to meet the long-term needs of migrants and refugees living primarily outside of camps by supporting sustained livelihoods through vocational training and employment, as well as meeting basic needs through the provision of social services. At local and international level, the fight against trafficking in human beings is a priority in emergency programs as in long term action.
We urge the UN to review their current structures, assess comparative advantages of all actors, and more clearly delineate the role of the UN as coordinator and civil society as implementers. We also call for transparency of funding practices.
Further, we call for developed nations not to use overseas development aid to pay for the costs of refugees at home. We ask all countries to stop making such aid conditional on migration priorities of the donor country.
We denounce deportations and forced returns of people, and the reformulation or reinterpretation of international refugee and humanitarian law to prevent people from seeking refuge or to facilitate their return.
We call on the international community to share the responsibility of providing protection to those fleeing from their homes to avoid some countries shouldering the bulk of the responsibility on their own.
The UN summit on migrants and refugees on 19th September is considered a historic opportunity to strengthen the international migration response and to create a system capable of protecting the rights and responding to the needs of large movements of refugees and migrants.
 This is the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/press/2016/6/5763ace54/1-human-113-affected-forced-displacement-hits-record-high.html
 Partly quoted from 2 UN sites
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