Several Representatives Point to Equitable Burden, Responsibility Sharing as Expression of Cooperation
One year after the signing of the Global Compact on Refugees, the inaugural Global Refugee Forum, to be held in Geneva in December, will offer a unique opportunity to meet the commitments of this historic 2018 agreement, Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) delegates said today, calling on the international community to tackle the causes of displacement.
In a day of general debate, efforts to meet the needs of people fleeing violence, human rights abuses and extremism dominated discussion that also covered related measures to end racism and xenophobia and uphold the right to self‑determination. Throughout, delegates from all regions highlighted successes and challenges.
In Latin America, Colombia’s representative said her country hosts 34 per cent of the Venezuelan migrants who fled their country. Brazil’s delegate, describing the crisis on its northern border, said his country reacted to the influx of refugees from Venezuela with “open borders and open arms”, imposing no visa obligations and allowing Venezuelans to enter on expired passports. Its “Operation Welcome” programme aims to help refugees and migrants resettle in the country.
Venezuela’s representative blamed the crisis on actions by the United States and its “regional henchmen”, who have “stolen the savings and good of the republic” and “placed them elsewhere”. They are using the crisis to bring about unjustified regime change, she said, rejecting the “securitization narrative” imposed on the mobility of persons, which is not the threat, contrary to what the “puppets of the system” say. “The only threat to regional security is the interventionist policies of the United States and its partners,” she declared.
Syria’s delegate meanwhile recalled the establishment of a national committee dedicated to facilitating the safe return of refugees. Likewise, Kazakhstan’s delegate described its “Operation Zhusan”, which entailed bringing home 595 Kazakh citizens who had been brought to Syria under false pretences and drawn into the conflict involving Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). They are now being rehabilitated.
Some of the world’s largest refugee hosting countries were also represented, with Turkey’s delegate called for more than emergency responses — displaced people must be able to envision a future in which their rights are respected. She called on the international community to open more resettlement quotas.
The representative of Afghanistan, a country of origin, said that the 70.8 million people displaced as of June 2019, Afghans represent the world’s second‑largest refugee population, with armed conflict and natural disaster behind the rising numbers of those fleeing. He called for collaboration between host countries and countries of origin to facilitate dignified voluntary repatriation. Thanks to ongoing efforts, 5.2 million Afghan refugees and 5 million undocumented migrants have returned home since 2002.
On the humanitarian front, several delegates outlined successful responses. Cameroon’s delegate described a biometric programme, improved camp security and the opening of a centre for humanitarian assistance, while Sudan’s delegate said voluntary returns have begun under the Tripartite Agreement between her country, Chad and UNHCR, which, alongside the improved situation in Darfur and tribal agreements, has been the backdrop for the return of Sudanese refugees. In Thailand, the Government has granted citizenship to 10,000 people with status problems by ensuring birth registration and amending relevant legislation.
Many delegates kept the spotlight on protracted difficulties. Georgia’s representative said that for 25 years, hundreds of thousands of Georgian citizens have been expelled from Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region and continue to be deprived of their right to return. Along similar lines, Ukraine’s representative said nearly six years of armed conflict caused by the ongoing Russian aggression have led to a protracted humanitarian crisis in Donbas, affecting 5.2 million Ukrainians. Noting that 1.4 million Ukrainians are registered as internally displaced persons, she emphasized the importance of providing UNHCR with the resources needed to carry out its activities.
Also speaking in the general debate today were representatives of Iraq, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Myanmar, United Republic of Tanzania (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)), Saudi Arabia, United States, Norway, Iran, Italy, Mali, Kuwait, Sudan, Montenegro, Equatorial Guinea, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Costa Rica, Algeria, Eritrea, Angola, Egypt, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates, as well a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and an observer for the European Union.
The representatives of Armenia, Namibia, Azerbaijan and Morocco spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Friday, 1 November, to consider the report of the Human Rights Council.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights today (for background, see Press Release GA/SHC/4266).
EDUARDO FERNÁNDEZ-ZINCKE, European Union, said that while many refugee situations escalate and become more protracted in nature, there are also new displacement crises. Entire countries and regions remain vulnerable to fragility, placing a huge strain on the capacity to address the wider ramifications of refugee crises. Citing conflict, food insecurity and climate change as factors and welcoming the first Global Refugee Forum as a crucial opportunity to share good practices and experiences in comprehensive refugee responses, he said some European Union countries have already announced their co‑convener role, co‑sponsorship, commitments or pledges.
Mr. AL-BANDER (Iraq) said that since the country’s liberation in 2017, 4.1 million displaced persons have been able to return home. This is a priority of the Government, and its efforts have allowed for the closing of many camps, especially in the Mosul area. He agreed with the High Commissioner’s comment about the importance of not politicizing the question of returns, as the decision to do so must be taken by refugees themselves.
Ms. FONTANA (Switzerland) thanked the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for helping her country cope with the increase in statelessness applications. She expressed concern about the increasing numbers of internally displaced people, which has doubled in recent times, and welcomed the creation of High‑Level Panel on Internally Displaced Persons. Switzerland is proud to host the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva this December, and will facilitate dialogue between all parties, including the private sector and refugees. She expressed grave concern about the situation in Syria and said her country is donating 61 million francs to help people affected by the crisis. She expressed support for UNHCR’s efforts to expand resettlement. Non‑earmarked money is essential for the agency to have the requisite predictability and flexibility to fulfil its mandate. She observed that Switzerland’s contribution has been non‑earmarked for the past four years and called on UNHCR to invest in regional offices without weakening global capacity.
MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said that armed conflicts and other situations of violence have long been major reasons for forced displacement across and within borders. More than two thirds of all refugees come from five countries, all of which are affected by conflicts and violence: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. Climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters increasingly interact with drivers of such movements and reinforce them. It is therefore important to address the causes of forced displacement in a holistic way. Among the milestone achievements of the United Nations are the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, which form the core of international humanitarian law, and which regulate conduct during armed conflict, seeking to limit its devastating effects.
QASIM AZIZ BUTT (Pakistan), stressing that 13.6 million people were displaced in 2018 alone, said that more than half of the refugee population are children. Funding for UNHCR is critical to alleviate human suffering, he said, pointing to Pakistan’s long‑standing partnership with the agency and noting that the Prime Minister has always supported refugees. In order to meet their needs, the international community should step forward in a meaningful way, which translates into not burdening host countries with more loans and working to achieve stability in the countries of origin. He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to voluntary repatriation and rebuilding of refugees’ homes, noting that the recent increase in refugees calls for change and expressing support for the Global Refugee Forum to be held in December.
MOHAMMAD NAEEMI (Afghanistan) said his country remains the world’s second‑largest in terms of refugee population, with armed conflict and natural disasters among the main factors of displacement. Highlighting the need for enhanced collaboration and coordination between host countries and countries of origin to create an environment conducive to dignified voluntary reparation, he said Afghanistan has identified 15 areas of focus to facilitate the return and reintegration of displaced Afghans. This year, the Government developed a comprehensive migration policy that provides a road map for migration and asylum issues through 2050. Thanks to ongoing efforts, 5.2 million Afghan refugees and 5 million undocumented migrants have returned home since 2002. Peace and stability are fundamental to securing the safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons. In Afghanistan, the only sustainable solution is to settle the imposed armed conflict.
Mr. SITNIKOV (Russian Federation), expressing support for UNHCR, said his country has received a large number of refugees from south‑east Ukraine since 2014, including those who asked for asylum on the Russian Federation’s territory. Welcoming the voluntary return of the Syrian refugees to their home, he said the process of voluntary repatriations must be positive. He expressed support for the upcoming Global Refugee Forum and recalled international community’s basic responsibility to refugees. Shifting the burden from one country to another is not a solution, he cautioned, stressing that political settlement is the most effective response to refugee crises.
Ms. NYI (Myanmar) said that her country has been severely affected by the influx of displaced persons from a neighbouring country and by irregular migration since colonial times. As a result of 70 years of internal armed conflicts, Myanmar is also experiencing an outflow of displaced people to its neighbours. She underscored the importance of State‑led approaches, given the varying nature of the challenges in addressing the issues at hand. Stressing that issues between neighbours must be resolved bilaterally in an amicable and friendly manner, he recalled that in 2016, a programme for facilitating voluntary repatriation was agreed between Thailand and Myanmar. Since then, many displaced people have returned to Myanmar. This return programme is led by the two neighbouring Governments with support from UNHCR and its partners.
LILIAN ABDUL MUKASA (United Republic of Tanzania), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said her region has experienced the harshest form of racial discrimination as perpetuated by the apartheid Government and therefore reiterated unwavering commitment to eliminating racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. She expressed alarm at the growing resurgence of contemporary forms of that intolerance worldwide, including hate speech, which should be mitigated by the international community as a matter of priority. Citing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, she said those complementary standards are necessary to address xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti‑Semitism and racial profiling. She reaffirmed the Community’s commitment to the full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and urged Member States to work towards its universal ratification.
Mr. BIN JADID (Saudi Arabia) said many displaced people have settled in his country, and they have been provided fundamental rights, including to movement and health care. As many as 50,000 people received nationality, while 800,000 received an identification card. Saudi Arabia grants nationality to children born to unknown parents and adheres to Islam’s principles of peace and fraternity. He outlined financial support provided to refugees and the forcibly displaced, including Yemeni refugees in Somalia and Djibouti. Turning to Palestine, he said Saudi Arabia provided $900 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Noting that there are more than 1 million refugees in his country, he said they are not called refugees; they are called visitors enjoying all fundamental rights. They do not live in camps. They live in high‑quality residences.
AYŞE INANÇ ÖRNEKOL (Turkey) said it is important that destination countries support peace processes and promote the peaceful settlement of disputes in conflict areas. Displaced people need more than emergency responses; they need to be able to envision a future in which their rights are respected, and they can benefit from and contribute to development. She called on the international community to open up more resettlement quotas. As the largest refugee‑hosting company, Turkey attaches importance to the Global Compact on Refugees, which intends to provide a basis for equitable burden‑sharing and responsibility among stakeholders. She emphasized Turkey’s commitment for voluntary, safe and dignified returns in areas where conducive conditions prevail.
LACEY WHITE MORISON (United States), stressed her country’s strong partnership with UNHCR, pointing to her country’s $1.7 billion contribution to the Office in 2019 and underscoring the United States commitment to burden‑sharing. She welcomed the holding of the Geneva Global Refugee Forum in December. Calling for optimal use of resources, she urged UNHCR to enhance its culture of accountability, ensuring efficiency and transparency, and demonstrating strong, competent leadership in the field.
NATHALIA SÁNCHEZ GARCÍA (Colombia) said the High Commissioner’s report observes that the numbers of displaced persons in Colombia are higher than in other countries facing such crises and pointed out that this observation “lacks temporal context”. Colombia is committed to finding lasting solutions to the crisis. According to the 2019 report, her country hosts 34 per cent of Venezuelan migrants who have left their country. Countries in the region affected by the crisis have come together to find solutions. She expressed concern that the region response programme only received a fraction of the funds needed — only $176 million so far — and stressed that more funds are imperative.
NELLY BANAKEN ELEL (Cameroon) said that to help refugees and displaced persons in her country, the Government launched a biometric programme and enhanced security in camps and humanitarian centres. The risk of statelessness must be prevented. A centre for humanitarian assistance has been opened, she said. Since the signing of the Tripartite Agreement for the Voluntary Repatriation of Nigerian refugees living in Cameroon, agreed in Dakar in June, voluntary returns have begun, and camps have since been dismantled. Turning to the situation of internally displaced persons, she said Cameroon has launched an emergency plan to aid those displaced by secessionist outrages in the north‑west and south‑west of the country, as well as to help people displaced by natural disasters. Since June, it has been undertaking follow-up actions with humanitarian partners.
HANNE MELFALD (Norway) said that her country is a strong supporter of the Global Compact and shares the ambition of making the Global Refugee Forum a vehicle for more equitable sharing of burdens and responsibilities. It is important to take a long‑term perspective that will benefit both refugees and host communities. The protection of refugees and a comprehensive response to refugee situations will continue to be a priority in Norway’s humanitarian policy, as outlined in the related strategy launched in 2018. This includes continuing to prioritize education in situations of crisis and conflict. There is also a need to strengthen the humanitarian response to sexual and gender‑based violence, notably in situations of displacement.
NOUR ALI (Syria) recalled the many actions taken by the Government to facilitate the safe return of refugees, including the establishment of a national committee dedicated to their safe return. Expressing concern over some countries’ unrealistic portrait of the situation in Syria, targeting Syrian citizens and supporting terrorism, she said UNHCR should promote positive dialogue and cooperation. She urged the international community to allow for the safe return of Syrian refugees, rather than shed “crocodile tears” for them.
RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) said his country takes its duties towards refugees seriously, describing the major crisis on its northern border resulting from the situation in Venezuela. Brazil has handled the crisis in an exemplary manner, he said, underscoring the country’s long‑standing solidarity with the people of Venezuela. Brazil has reacted to the influx of refugees with “open borders and open arms”, imposing no obligation for visas and allowing Venezuelans to enter on expired passports. Also, Brazil launched the “Operation Welcome” programme, aimed at internal resettlement and providing refugees and migrants with better infrastructure. The second phase of the operation will include new reception centres and shelters, as well as the establishment of a fund for receiving private international donations.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) said that the efforts of UNHCR are of critical importance, especially amid conflicts that cause new waves of mass displacement in various regions of the world. In recent years, Georgia has implemented significant reforms to ensure the protection of those who have been forcefully displaced. The law on international protection, which is in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol, specifies principles and strengthens procedural safeguards at all stages of the asylum procedure. Georgia cooperates with UNHCR in the context of guaranteeing efficient asylum procedures, as well as socioeconomic assistance to persons of concern. For 25 years, hundreds of thousands of Georgian citizens have been expelled from Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region and continue to be deprived of their right to return to their homes. Georgia is continuously prevented from extending protection to this population.
Mr. MOZAFFARPOUR (Iran) said that as the number of refugees under the UNHCR mandate increases, it is more critical than ever for Member States to honour their international obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to share responsibility in hosting and protecting refugees. A declining trend in durable solutions, especially voluntary repatriation, is a serious concern. The hospitality of a few countries hosting large numbers of refugees should not serve as an excuse for others to evade fair and equitable burden sharing. It is neither fair nor acceptable to impose responsibility to protect refugees on a few countries or regions. It is expected that the Global Refugee Forum will make a real change towards preserving and expanding asylum space not only in a few developing countries but across the globe.
ILARIO SCHETTINO (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said the number of forcibly displaced people continues to increase at an alarming pace and the United Nations should apply a coordinated and comprehensive humanitarian response. The Global Refugee Forum, to be held in Geneva next month, will offer a unique opportunity to galvanize implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees and to share lessons learned over the last year. On this occasion, Italy will display its best practices and commitments on humanitarian corridors, emergency evacuations from Libya and projects such as the local integration of refugees into the labour market of the host country. All these initiatives are clear testimony to Italy’s commitment to address the causes of mixed migration flows.
MOUSSA DOLLO (Mali) said the refugee crisis, which subjected 70 million people to humanitarian suffering, calls for increased international cooperation. The Global Compact for Refugees is an important step towards addressing the challenge, to strengthening autonomy of refugees, enabling safe and dignified return, and to help alleviate the burdens of host countries. Mali is no stranger to such events, he said, since its 2012 crisis resulted in inflows to neighbouring countries. He welcomed the formation of the High‑Level Panel on internally displaced persons founded on the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as the Kampala Convention.
Ms. ALDAWEESH (Kuwait) stressed the importance of alleviating the suffering of refugees and internally displaced persons around the world. The Prince of Kuwait has undertaken great efforts in that regard, in close cooperation with UNHCR, she said, reiterating Kuwait’s support for refugees in general and Palestinian refugees in particular. Since the start of the crisis in Syria, Kuwait has supported the Syrian refugees and contributed to numerous conferences. To guarantee refugee protection, the driving forces of poverty, conflict and violent extremism must be tackled, she asserted.
Ms. AHMED MUKHTAR (Sudan) said that a number of humanitarian organizations, including HHC Sudan, are addressing the crisis affecting 5 million people in the region. The mixed nature of the affected group — which includes refugees, illegal migrants, refugees fleeing from camps to towns, and those who are being trafficked — poses a challenge to humanitarian efforts. Sudan has set up a national commission to combat trafficking in persons in the Horn of Africa. Voluntary and safe returns have begun under the Tripartite Agreement between Sudan, Chad and UNHCR, which, alongside the improved situation in Darfur and tribal agreements, has been the backdrop for the return of Sudanese refugees. While rebuilding and development efforts are underway, aid is urgently needed.
MILICA PEJANOVIĆ ƉURIŠIĆ (Montenegro) said her country has provided shelter to a huge number of persons displaced by the conflict in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Cooperating with neighbouring countries and international partners, Montenegro has implemented several subprojects through the Regional Housing Programme. This helped resolve housing issues for displaced persons and internally displaced persons. Since many of these people remain in Montenegro, the country is creating an environment to integrate them into the society. In accordance with the Law on Foreigners, activities are undertaken to recognize the status of stateless persons and ensure the rights provided by ratified conventions. During the UNHCR Executive Board High‑Level Segment on Statelessness, Montenegro committed to strengthen capacities at national and local levels to secure access to rights for persons granted stateless status in Montenegro.
ATHIKARN DILOGWATHANA (Thailand) said collective efforts are needed to manage global migration challenges, including for timely aid delivery, addressing international protection gaps and ending statelessness. By ensuring birth registration and amending relevant legislation, Thailand has granted citizenship to about 10,000 people with status problems. It has conducted voluntary repatriation of displaced people to neighbouring countries in cooperation with United Nations agencies. As part of its efforts under the “ending detention of migrant children” policy, the Government completed the Memorandum of Understanding with related partners, followed by robust implementation on the part of migrant children and their mothers or guardians. Thailand has established a working group to coordinate efforts to implement the Global Compact on Refugees and Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, she added.
Ms. HORBACHOVA (Ukraine) said her country is tackling the problem of statelessness by establishing an administrative birth registration procedure for children born in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk. Nearly six years of armed conflict caused by the ongoing Russian aggression have resulted in a protracted humanitarian crisis in Donbas. According to the United Nations, around 5.2 million Ukrainians have been affected. Among them, 2.3 million are estimated to be in urgent need of humanitarian and protection assistance. Noting that 1.4 million Ukrainians are registered as internally displaced persons, she emphasized the importance of providing UNHCR with the resources needed to carry out its activities.
INMACULADA AVOMO ESONO KIEBIYENE (Equatorial Guinea) said the most vulnerable groups, such as women and children, are affected by the refugee crisis, facing gender‑based violence and forced recruitment. Despite its lack of resources, Africa has a role to play as a humanitarian leader. There is a need to address the causes of movement, she said, and States’ capacities must be strengthened to do so, especially on the tenth anniversary of the Kampala Convention.
ANEL BAKYTBEKKYZY (Kazakhstan) said that amid the unprecedented flows of migrants and refugees, many horrible stories are heard of tragedies resulting in death, sexual abuse and gross human rights violations. Better data is needed to assess the volume and composition of unregulated refugees. There is also a need to promote continuous dialogue and develop monitoring mechanisms for solving and forecasting migration problems. Kazakhstan, in cooperation with UNHCR, launched the Almaty Process, a regional consultative process, in 2011, to address migration challenges. She touched on the unique experience of Operation Zhusan, which entailed bringing home 595 Kazakh citizens from Syria, adding that they had been brought to that country under false pretences and were caught up in armed conflict involving the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). They are now being rehabilitated.
SHAH ASIF RAHMAN (Bangladesh) said that all assistance and funding for humanitarian crises should be separated from, and in addition to, regular development assistance and cooperation. Bangladesh hosts more than 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas, which is taking a serious toll on its socioeconomic development. Regrettably, so far only 42 per cent of this year’s Joint Response Plan has been funded and the international community must step up with much‑needed support. UNHCR’s role is critical in supporting Myanmar to create a conducive environment in Rakhine for voluntary, safe and dignified returns and in ascertaining the voluntariness of prospective returnees.
YOUSSOUF ADEN MOUSSA (Djibouti) welcomed the first Global Refugee Forum to be held in Geneva, expressing concern over the rising number of refugees and displaced persons. He called for a globally coordinated, humanitarian approach to strengthening their protection. Refugee flows will continue until the international community tackles the causes of displacement. Pointing to the situation of refugees in Djibouti, he underscored the importance of energy access, microbusiness and the forestation of host villages. The Government has introduced several laws to enhance protections and allow them access to basic services, including quality education. Djibouti welcomes all refugees on its soil, he assured.
ASBINA MARIN SEVILLA (Venezuela) criticized the use of unilateral coercive measures against her country, which went against States’ moral and humanitarian responsibility. She blamed the crisis in Venezuela on actions by the United States and its “regional henchmen”, who have “stolen the savings and good of the republic and businesses and placed them elsewhere”. They are using the crisis to bring about unjustified regime change, which is an insult to Venezuela’s dignity. She rejected the “securitization narrative” imposed on the mobility of persons, which is not the threat, contrary to what the “puppets of the system” say. “The only threat to regional security is the interventionist policies of the United States and its partners.” Many years ago, Venezuela welcomed those fleeing war in Europe and Latin America. Millions of people from countries — including Colombia and Peru — settled in Venezuela and have never faced xenophobia. Those countries promoting destabilization do not comply with international law, she stressed, adding that the crisis of asylum seekers and refugees cannot be addressed by building walls or invoking the United Nations Charter. The human dignity and rights of refugees must be respected and she called for strengthening global cooperation.
ALLANAH KJELLGREN, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that over the last year, the Committee has taken stock of progress on implementing the Kampala Convention. Significant improvements have been achieved since its adoption 10 years ago. More States have become party to the Convention and many have adopted legal, policy or practical measures. But more must be done to ensure that it achieves its full potential. Efforts must be stepped up at the national, subregional and continental levels. States should promote the Convention, ensure the participation of internally displaced persons and host communities in decision‑making and appoint a coordinating authority with the necessary mandate and legitimacy to facilitate a comprehensive plan.
RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica) said his country is one of transit, destination and origin for many people. In recent years, it has seen an increase in migratory flows and greater complexity among the profiles of those seeking refuge and asylum. This puts protection mechanisms to the test, he said, noting that in 2017, 46,836 persons arriving from outside the country were beneficiaries of social programmes, including unrestricted access to low‑cost or free education or health care. Thanks to UNHCR, there is a procedure in place to determine statelessness. In 2018, under this procedure, Costa Rican nationality was granted to one stateless person. Interregional flows and the climate crisis are complicating the number of displacement issues, he said, noting that the 2018 social and political crisis in Nicaragua generated a nearly 1.4 per cent increase in asylum requests to Costa Rica compared to 2017.
AHMED SAHRAOUI (Algeria) said countries should provide full support in order to respond and save the refugees in Africa. The number of people displaced around the world has doubled in the last 20 years, he said, stressing that Africa still hosts the largest number of refugees and stateless persons. Support and protection provided by UNHCR must be complemented by other pathways that tackle the causes of displacement. The international community has to provide necessary support, particularly to host countries, which have the burden of responding to the needs of refugees. Underscoring the need to share responsibility, he said the financial problems facing UNHCR must not impact the quality of its work.
Ms. TESFAMARIAM (Eritrea) said UNHCR is the only organization with an international mandate to protect and assist refugees. Therefore, it is deeply concerning to hear repeated reports of corruption inside camps administered by UNHCR, directly or indirectly, including bribery to grant refugee status, as well as to acquire preferential resettlements in selected European countries. She urged UNHCR to conduct thorough investigations with the aim of dismantling what might be a deeply rooted network of corruption. Additionally, UNHCR should provide adequate protection to refugees who risk intimidation or retaliation when reporting such acts of corruption. She expressed concern over the threatening ramifications for refugees in emergency or conflict situations in some countries of transit that are a source of unimaginable suffering and cruelty. Eritrea will continue to make every effort to ensure the safety of all Eritreans stranded in a conflict situation, through working with host countries and international partners.
Ms. MARILIA MANUEL (Angola) said the deficit in financing must be addressed to tackle the refugee crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean, which encompasses refugees from African countries. She welcomed the exemplary solidarity of neighbouring States, affected by refugee flows following upheavals. For example, many refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have arrived in the northern part of Angola, she said, adding that her country believes in voluntary and safe return of refugees as a lasting solution. Following the Tripartite Agreement with UNHCR and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 16,000 Congolese refugees have expressed the desire to return to the Kasai region. She underscored Angola’s commitment to resolving the issue, with UNHCR support.
MOHAMED ABDELRAHMAN MOHAMED MOUSSA (Egypt) said his country has hosted several important regional events to promote the theme of refugees, including the 2019 August predatory workshop of Aswan Forum on Forced Displacement in Africa, held in partnership with UNCHCR. Egypt has been a strong supporter of the Global Refugee Forum, which seeks to translate commitments made in the Global Compact into actions and to operationalize the principle of burden- and responsibility-sharing in an equitable and sustainable manner, he added. The country is also at the forefront of efforts to carry out the African Union Policy on Post‑Conflict Reconstruction Development. In addition, Egypt currently hosts refugees from 58 countries. The refugees receive access to all public services, including health care.
KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary) stressed the importance of preventing conflicts that trigger forced displacement, saying that that should be the primary consideration of the international community. “Solidarity can take different forms,” she said, noting that such measures include humanitarian and development aid to countries affected by conflict, and the provision of services and infrastructure to countries hosting refugees. Stating that resettlement is not the only way to express solidarity to countries affected by conflict, she said Hungary’s €16 million development programme in Uganda, launched earlier this year, seeks to help create peace and stability, and thus, address the causes of migration.
Ms. MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said self‑determination applies to peoples under alien subjugation, domination and exploitation, and cited a General Assembly resolution calling on States to cease military interventions and occupation of foreign territories. Self‑determination also applies to people of independent States and their right to choose their own form of Government without external interference. No provisions on self‑determination in international documents testify to the right to unilateral secession by ethnic minorities, including as a means of sanction or remedy. Claims of self‑determination are unsustainable when directed from outside and involve violations of international law. Such illegality is demonstrated by Armenia’s continued aggression against Azerbaijan. Any attempt by Armenia to encourage, procure or sustain the secession of Nagorno‑Karabakh is simply unlawful in international law as amounting to a violation of the principle of respect for the territorial integrity of States. She cited four Security Council resolutions condemning the use of force against Azerbaijan and called for the complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from its territory. Moreover, she rejected Armenia’s claims as to the “independent statehood” of Nagorno‑Karabakh “as a result of the alleged realization by its Armenian inhabitants of the right to determination”, adding that the claim is unsustainable in international law and thus null and void ab initio.
MARIAME FOFANA (Burkina Faso), hailing the work carried out by UNHCR, said her country hosts nationals from many countries, and thus, has set up a legal framework to meet their current needs. Following the crisis in Mali, which began in 2012, Burkina Faso has welcomed thousands of refugees on its soil, many of whom have now returned to Mali. She expressed concern over alarming figures in 2018, which has seen many displaced persons due to conflict, climate change, poverty, and socioeconomic problems. Burkina Faso has drawn attention to the need for a subregional solution to the security crisis which, to a large extent, is rooted in the crisis in Libya.
ELLENI HENOK (Ethiopia) said her country is taking practical steps to transform its policy approach to meet the needs of refugees, strengthening the nexus between humanitarian and development interventions and carrying out comprehensive refugee responses. It has enacted a new refugee law, reorganized an independent Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs and adopted a new civil society law to put in place the required legal and institutional infrastructure. With support from its partners and UNHCR, Ethiopia’s gross enrolment of refugee children in primary school has reached 74 per cent, for example, while secondary education stands at 12 per cent. About 3,600 refugee students are attending university. Recalling the challenges around voluntary returns and sustainable integration, she said that since the introduction of the reform process, Ethiopia has received requests from citizens living in exile as refugees. Ethiopia is asking UNHCR to extend support — to her country and the region — for its reintegration efforts.
Mr. AKHIGBE (Nigeria) expressed appreciation that UNHCR has continued to support his country since the onset of massive humanitarian crises stemming from the Boko Haram insurgency. There has been a positive tide in the global governance of forced displacements with the adoption of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees. However, efforts must be translated into actions that bring about positive change for those forced to flee their homes. The commitment to equitable burden- and responsibility‑sharing anchored in the Global Compact on Refugees can only materialize through strengthened international cooperation and through solidarity with fellow humans.
OMAR RABI (Morocco) said refugees in the Tindouf camps continue to be denied protection owed to them by international law, noting that several General Assembly resolutions and UNHCR itself have called for census and registration measures to be carried out in the camps to identify their numbers and needs, and to better protect them. Without this information, armed non‑State groups intercede, as seen in reports by the World Food Programme (WFP), among others. Refugees pay the price of politicization, he said, adding that the opposition does not permit them to carry out census and registration measures. Underlining the importance of these activities, he said refugees in the camps must be allowed to be returned to Morocco, their home. Official figures state that 90,000 Moroccans are in these camps. The census is being prevented by parties who are confiscating funds meant for carrying out this exercise, he said.
Ms. MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan), said self-determination has been recognized as applying to the peoples of independent States, allowing them the right to choose their own internal Governments. The right to self‑determination does not include the right to unilateral secession by minorities. To think otherwise would threaten societies and encourage discrimination based on ethnic or religious grounds. Acts of self‑determination should not be directed from outside, in violation of international law, and threatening State sovereignty. Yet, Armenia spares no effort to demonstrate that this principle can be applied to the Armenian minority living in Azerbaijan region of Nagorno‑Karabakh. Any attempts by Armenia regarding this region is a violation of international law, she said, noting that several Security Council resolutions condemn the use of force against Azerbaijan and reaffirm respect for its territorial integrity.
MOHAMED ABDELRAHMAN MOHAMED MOUSSA (Egypt) spoke about the plight of the Palestinian people, who are being denied the right to self‑determination due to the “lengthiest military occupation in modern history”. Every day, the simplest rights of Palestinians are being violated. Instability is on the rise in East Jerusalem and Gaza due to Israel’s occupation. Egypt is concerned by the increase of xenophobia and hatred around the world, the rise of extreme‑right currents, and hate speech directed against others.
ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela) said cultural diversity is the path to peace and expressed alarm at the rise of xenophobic discourse around the world from political leaders and sectarian groups. This exacerbates suffering, especially of minority groups. In addition, messages delivered through new technologies are inciting hate. Refugees bear the brunt of such hatred. Venezuela has welcomed refugees who fled war and have built their lives without discrimination, including Colombians, Peruvians, and Chileans. They have not been subjected to xenophobia and hate; the State has protected them. He went on to condemn the misuse of human mobility for political ends, as well as intolerance against Venezuelans in other countries.
MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) said the Durban Conference was a turning point in combating racism. Yet, despite such efforts, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance is increasing across the world. In the current international context, prevention is weak and human rights violations characterized by discriminatory and racial acts persist. A global approach must be adopted, inclusive of preventive and protective measures. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers an opportunity to end racism and related intolerance, she said, noting that major sporting events have a captive audience of millions across the world, giving them a great potential for spreading the principles of tolerance and acceptance of difference.
OMAR RABI (Morocco) said self‑determination has evolved, both in legal terms and in practice. Independence, free association or integration of a State are three modes for self-determination. The right is also based on the principle of territorial integrity. The definition of self‑determination has also developed in major ways, including as related to requirements for independence, and this has been used to democratize States, to avoid Balkanization and to guarantee peace and security. Another form of self‑determination would allow a State to enjoy its rights for development and well-being.
Ms. ALEISAEI (United Arab Emirates) said her country is celebrating 2019 as the year of tolerance. Describing the United Arab Emirates “a tolerance hub”, which promotes dialogue and openness to others, especially for future generations. Last month, the United Arab Emirates announced the “Abrahamic Family Home” project in Abu Dhabi, which will have a church, mosque and synagogue in one place to promote dialogue among religions. Noting that millions of people fall victim to racism and related intolerance, some of which is violent, she said her country’s legal frameworks are in line with international standards, notably a law on fighting intolerance and discrimination.
RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) said it is the duty of Member States to fully implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The International Decade for People of African Descent is a great opportunity to take swift action, he said, urging Member States to deliver results. He outlined measures taken to combat discrimination in Brazil, noting that disaggregated data had revealed that women of African descent are more likely to depend on public assistance, and are at higher risk of being exposed to violations. Based on this data and mapping, Brazil launched a unified social system without racism. On the legislative side, it ensures that racism‑related crimes are not subject to bail, he said.
Right of Reply
The representative of Armenia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to earlier remarks by her counterpart from Azerbaijan, who attempted to misuse the United Nations platform. The people of Nagorno‑Karabakh have exercised their right to self‑determination. The use of force against these people and their peaceful aspirations only reinforces such aspirations, rather than the claim of the aggressors. Azerbaijan responded with pogroms and massacres to protests by the people of Nagorno‑Karabakh more than 30 years ago.
The representative of Namibia, responding to the representative of Morocco, said she was confused by his statement, given that Namibia’s statement was factual and on the United Nations agenda, concerning Western Sahara. She appealed to Morocco, as a fellow member of the African Union, to foster the development of the African continent by working to find a lasting solution to the question of Western Sahara.
The representative of Azerbaijan, responding to Armenia’s delegate, she said there is no such separate entity called the people of Nagorno‑Karabakh. Rather, there are two equal communities in the region, one Azerbaijani and one Armenian. Armenia refuses to accept the existence of the Azerbaijan community of that region. Thus, Armenia cannot demand privileges which are, at their core, violations of international law.
The representative of Morocco expressed confusion over the reply of Namibia’s delegate, calling on that country to find a solution for the people of Caprivi to determine their own future. Regarding the question of the Moroccan Sahara, he said that its people fully enjoy their status as Moroccans.
The representative of Armenia said her counterpart from Azerbaijan used groundless accusations and distorted facts. Regarding the original population of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia had more displaced persons there than did Azerbaijan. When distorted figures are publicized, it is disappointing. The human rights of displaced persons should prevail, she said, encouraging Azerbaijan to engage in dialogue.
The representative of Namibia expressed confusion over remarks by the representative of Morocco, stressing that Namibia has requested respect for Security Council resolutions concerning Western Sahara. On the question of Caprivi, she said that Namibia invites everyone to visit the region, which she called the Zambezi region. The Zambezi region in Namibia remains an integral part of her country.
The representative of Azerbaijan said the Nagorno‑Karabakh region has always been an integral part of her country. It was Armenia that resorted to force to realize its groundless territorial claims. The primary goal of the ongoing peace process is to ensure the immediate withdrawal of occupied forces from Azerbaijan’s territory and the return of forcibly displaced persons to their homes and properties.
The representative of Morocco again expressed confusion over remarks by the representative of Namibia. If she allows herself to address the question of the Moroccan Sahara then he will address the question of the people of Caprivi. He invited her to read the Security Council’s reports and resolutions to update herself on recent developments. The Sahara is Moroccan and is an integral part of Morocco. It has beautiful beaches and the people are kind and pleasant, he said. On Caprivi, Namibia should consider the needs and requirements of its own population, particularly the people of Caprivi.