Obama at UNGA: Refugee crisis a test of our humanity | Daily News

Obama at UNGA: Refugee crisis a test of our humanity

At his last UN General Assembly, US president calls on member states to step up commitment to accept and help refugees.


New York - US President Barack Obama kicked off his Leaders' Summit on Refugees by calling the refugee crisis "one of the urgent tests of our time" and "a test of our common humanity".

The meeting came a day after member states at the UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration on Refugees, which ultimately gives them two more years to negotiate their strategies and obligations on the refugee crisis.

Some 50 world leaders took part in Obama's summit on Tuesday - their participation was conditional on making new commitments to address the global crisis.

The detailed list of who pledged what has not been released, but a White House statement issued early in the evening said that the cumulative commitments amounted to a $4.5bn increase over 2015 levels and participating countries "doubled the number of refugees they resettled or afforded other legal channels of admission". It also said that access to education and legal work for refugees was improved.

"I do think there's a general feeling that things have hit some sort of a tipping point - the combination of events around the wold, and the fact that Syria keeps getting unbelievably worse," said Kate Phillips-Barrosso, senior director for policy and advocacy at the International Rescue Committee.

The possibility of member states not honouring their pledges is "an important question," said Brooke Lauten, humanitarian policy and protection adviser at the Norwegian Refugee Council. There are mechanisms to monitor and pressure states to follow through with their pledges. But real consequences are few, she said.

"Will the wrath of the world community come down on them? No," said Lauten, but said the likelihood of member states throwing money at the refugee issue rather than committing to accepting and resettling refugees is "a huge, huge concern".

"The EU-Turkey deal is essentially the commodification of refugees," said Lauten. "They have become a commodity that you can buy and sell on the market … it's about the externalisation of borders," she added.



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