Focus shifts to refugees as truce crumbles
A SUMMIT to address the biggest refugee crisis since World War II opened at the United Nations yesterday, overshadowed by the ongoing war in Syria and faltering US-Russian efforts to halt the fighting.
World leaders will adopt a political declaration at the first-ever summit on refugees and migrants that human rights groups have already dismissed as falling short of the needed international response.
Amnesty International has labelled the summit a “missed opportunity” to come up with a global plan while Human Rights Watch has called out countries like Brazil, Japan and South Korea that have taken in only a handful of refugees – or no refugees at all in the case of Russia.
A record-breaking 65 million people are on the move worldwide, fleeing wars such as the carnage in Syria, repression and poverty, including 21 million refugees competing for too few resettlement opportunities.
Now in its sixth year, the war in Syria has driven nearly 9 million people from their homes while an additional 4 million have fled to neighbouring countries or are making the perilous journey to Europe.
The summit kicked off a week of high-level diplomacy as world leaders are set to address the annual General Assembly, which this year will be
dominated by the conflict in Syria.
A ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and the US was under threat after rebel-held Aleppo came under renewed attack while the US-led coalition killed dozens of Syrian soldiers in a strike that Washington says was unintentional.
During negotiations leading up to the summit, a proposal by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to resettle 10 percent of the global refugee population was dropped from the nonbinding draft declaration.
Only eight countries host more than half the world’s refugees: Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya and Uganda. –