UNITED NATIONS, June 10 (APP): Pakistan has called for the adoption of a global compact at the upcoming U.N. summit on refugees and migrants that would address as a “matter of utmost priority” the pressing issue of recurring tragedies resulting from shipwrecks in the Mediterranean as those desperately seeking asylum try to reach Europe.
“The shockingly high number of ‘fatalities in transit’ has been the most chilling aspect of the current refugee crisis,” Pakistan’s Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said on Thursday in the course of negotiations on the outcome document of the summit on “Large movements of Refugees and Migrants”.
The top-level meeting will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 19 September prior to the general debate of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly.
In her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi also urged the international community not to ignore the world’s protracted refugee situations, while underscoring the need to finding lasting solutions. Pakistan, she said, has been host to nearly three million refugees for close to four decades now. She regretted that the international community has failed to find a lasting political solution to this problem while support for their assistance and repatriation had also dried up with the passage of time.
“This has not only increased economic burden on my country but also created complex social and political problems”, the Pakistani envoy added.
Ambassador Lodhi expressed the hope that the Summit’s outcome document would focus equal attention on protracted refugee situations, while calling for enhanced assistance for host governments and communities and greater international support for early and sustainable repatriation of refugees in protracted situations.
Voicing concern at the rise in xenophobia, Ambassador Lodhi urged the world body to make an “unequivocal pronouncement” against all forms of xenophobia, especially when directed against those desperately seeking protection and asylum.
The Summit, she said, must make it clear that any public rhetoric against refugees is against the principles laid down in the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“The Summit should clearly reaffirm the principle of equal treatment of refugees and migrants and reject discrimination on any basis or consideration,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
Pakistan, she said, believes that the outcome document should be focused, crisp and comprehensive. “It should address all the problems faced by refugees, both in acute and in protracted situations, while responding urgently and effectively to the pressing challenges at hand”.
Recognizing that the current crisis is beyond the capacity of any one country, Pakistan supported the principle of regional and global burden sharing. However, Ambassador Lodhi said, it has to be borne in mind that global burden sharing has to be in accordance with the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility and must also take into account other relevant factors such as “geographical proximity”.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a recent report, called for the adoption of a global agreement on responsibility-sharing that collectively ensures the human rights, safety and dignity of all refugees and migrants.
“Away from the daily headlines and stark images, strains are quietly accumulating on refugees and migrants, as well as on countries and communities that receive them, sometimes for many years,” Ban stressed in his report to the UN General Assembly, entitled In Safety and Dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants.
“If one lesson can be drawn from the past few years, it is that individual countries cannot solve these issues on their own. International cooperation and action to address large movements of refugees and migrants must be strengthened,” he added.