NEW YORK (September 19. 2016) – As the UN high-level meeting on refugees and migrants draws to a close in New York, World Vision has expressed serious disappointment with the outcome.
“We had high hopes for children, but displaced and imprisoned children are left with a business-as-usual approach that offers little hope,” said World Vision’s Helen Keogh at the Summit in New York.
The original intent of the meeting was to agree on a way to share responsibility, so that countries like Lebanon — where one in four people is a Syrian refugee — aren’t having to cope with a global crisis alone. This did not happen.
Although much of the world’s attention has been focused on those making the dangerous journey across the sea, the vast majority of refugees in crises like Syria remain in the region and host countries are increasingly bearing a disproportionate burden. Increased support, including aid to these countries and a renewed push for peace is essential.
“It is neither fair nor realistic for a handful of countries to shoulder the burden of the refugee crises we see children caught up in all over the world – from the shores of Europe to the borders of Somalia,” said Keogh, the CEO for World Vision Ireland.
“Leaders have re-affirmed support for existing frameworks, which is a good sign, but it’s not really clear how we can keep them accountable for the support they have expressed at the summit.
“We came here wanting to see extraordinary steps taken to deal with extraordinary crises affecting children. We leave here with everything very much business as usual. Leaders continue to sit on the fence, and children continue to pay the price. Children deserve better.”
World Vision is also concerned that the New York Declaration, agreed to at the meeting, effectively allows for the imprisoning of children seeking asylum.
“It’s a sorry reflection on global leaders that they have agreed to allow countries to violate children’s rights in certain circumstances. In this day and age, the message this sends to children all over the world is morally indefensible.
“Imprisoning a child while you establish their right to asylum is never in that child’s best interests, and so it is never in our best interests as a global network of people who believe all children deserve better.”
World Vision is disappointed by the lack of attention given to internally displaced people during the summit.
“It’s a false distinction, when you’re looking at solutions, to separate out refugees from people displaced within their own countries – the reasons they have fled their homes are the same. The reasons they need help and compassion, and remedies to root causes, are the same,” said Keogh.
“Failure to address this will continue to leave millions of children with no voice. They live and die unseen and unheard by most of the world. This is wholly unacceptable.”
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Initially, leaders were supposed to agree on sharing responsibility for upholding the safety and dignity of refugees and migrants, and to develop a global compact on “Responsibility Sharing for Refugees” and a global compact for “Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration”. Following extensive consultations led by the Permanent Representatives of Jordan and Ireland, an Outcome Document was developed and, on 9 September, accepted as a General Assembly resolution and renamed the New York Declaration. This resolution was adopted and signed September 19.
The New York Declaration re-affirms support for existing frameworks, including the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Optional Protocol, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, etc. The Annex of the declaration is the “Comprehensive Refugee Response” Framework.
They have resolved to support child protection, child rights, pyscho-social support, education and refugee access to labour markets. There is also more detailed language on child-appropriate reception and support for unaccompanied and separated children. They have committed to have all children in school within months, which is not as quickly as we would have liked.
About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.
- Meeting was intended to share responsibility for refugee crisis across entire international community
- Concerns about language around child detention and internally displaced people
- 50 million children have been forced to flee their homes or migrate