21, September 2016
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) says two recent summits on the global refugee crisis held at the United Nations (UN) were dismal failures. “This week’s summits on the global refugee crisis failed to meet the challenge of this critical moment in history,” read a statement released by the rights group on Tuesday, referring to two high-level summits attended by world leaders and held at the UN headquarters in New York.
The first meeting, held on Monday, was hosted by the outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. During that summit, countries reconfirmed their commitment to receiving and assisting refugees. But the HRW said it was “filled with dismal speeches that veered from vapid platitudes disconnected from real world challenges to get-tough pronouncements about securing borders and stopping irregular migration.”
The second summit, which was held on Tuesday and hosted by the outgoing US President Barak Obama, called on the participating countries to accept higher refugee relocation quotas, and to donate more money for refugees.
The Tuesday summit was also viewed by the rights group as a disappointment since it was expected to hear speeches from “world leaders about how they would support the countries where most refugees live,” but almost no such speech was delivered.
According to the statement, the crisis has reached a “critical moment” since many countries, which host the huge majority of the world’s refugees, have clearly said that they have reached the limit of their capacity.
It added that some of those countries, which have generously hosted refugees for years — or even decades — are now pressuring asylum seekers to leave, have shut down their doors to new arrivals, or have announced that they would be doing so soon.
In the second summit, however, some more concrete goals were put on the table, including getting one million refugee children into school, granting work permissions to one million of their parents, and resettling a significant number of more refugees.
“As laudable as these goals are, however, they are not an end in themselves,” since they in fact “will help to keep front-line host countries from becoming destabilized,” the HRW said.
“That is the best strategy for ensuring that their doors can remain open so that people fleeing threats to their lives in the months and years to come will still have a place of refuge,” it added.
Europe has been facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict zones in North Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. Last year alone, well over a million refugees made their way into the continent.
Many blame major European powers for the exodus of the refugees from their home countries as the conflicts and violence that force them out are usually a result of Western policies.