“New york declaration” adopted

UN refugee summit in New York © Justin Lane

Development Minister Gerd Muller © Thomas Trutschel

The United Nations wants to improve the lot of millions of refugees. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon calls for consistent implementation of promises. Church representatives called for peaceful resolution of armed conflicts.

The 193 member countries of the United Nations have agreed on better protection and more aid for refugees. At the first major UN refugee summit, delegates in New York on Monday adopted by acclamation the so-called New York Declaration. This is the world community's response to the biggest global refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 65 million people currently on the run.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi hailed the declaration as a "political commitment of unprecedented force". Now, states would have to deliver on the pledges. The world expects "action and results". UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also called on UN states to take seriously and implement the Declaration's commitments. No refugee or migrant should be left behind, he said.

Protection and education for refugees

In the "New York Declaration," member countries reaffirm their political will to protect the lives of refugees, uphold their human rights and share responsibility for the refugee crisis. The statement also stresses that refugee and migrant children should be enrolled in school within months of arrival. Refugees should also be better protected from sexual violence.

In addition, the UN states want to support the refugee agency UNHCR in resettling refugees. However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon's demand to resettle at least ten percent of refugees each year was dropped following prere from many countries. Ban wanted to accommodate countries such as Jordan and Turkey, which host a large proportion of refugees.

Treaty rules

Secretary-general to report on implementation of declaration. The individual points of the "New York Declaration" are to form the basis for two global agreements: One treaty would address burden-sharing and refugee protection; the second agreement would establish principles of safe, orderly and legal migration. According to the UN plan, countries should adopt both agreements in 2018.

On the occasion of the refugee summit, the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches called for peaceful resolution of armed conflicts. German Development Minister Gerd Muller (CSU) demanded that the international community pay the promised aid money for Syria.

"Aid only on paper"

"It is a scandal that some countries promise their aid only on paper and the people in and around Syria have to starve and have no roof over their heads," the minister said in New York. Not even half of the ten billion U.S. dollars in aid pledged at the Syria conference in London in February has flowed, he said.

The UN Children's Fund Unicef drew particular attention to the situation of suffering children. Nearly 50 million girls and boys have left their homes worldwide, the organization said in Cologne. The international community must pay special attention to the protection of children, he said.

For Tuesday, US President Barack Obama has invited to another refugee summit at the UN. There states are to make concrete financial pledges and commit to resettlements.

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