Advocates for Refugees
Last month, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to world leaders to make a greater effort to become advocates for refugees. The secretary-general called helping refugees a “moral obligation.”

His comments came after the conclusion of the Sept. 19 U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants.

U.N. member states unanimously adopted the New York Declaration, which expresses the “political will” of world leaders to protect the rights and dignity of refugees, hence becoming advocates for refugees.

U.N. leaders urged world leaders to ensure all refugee children receive education within months of arrival in Europe. The declaration also called for an expansion of economic opportunities for refugees.

The declaration also petitioned leaders to support countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants. Turkey, Greece, Germany and France have taken in large numbers of refugees, while other European nations and the U.S. have resisted relocation efforts.

Civil unrest and Islamic extremism in the Middle East drove 1.3 million from their homes, most of these people have found political asylum in Europe. However, asylum does not always entail adequate living conditions.

Around 60,000 Middle Eastern refugees are currently stranded in Greece awaiting processing and relocation in Europe. The refugees are held in a massive tent city under appalling inhumane conditions.

In France over 1,000 unaccompanied minors live in squatter camps in and around the coastal town of Calais. The camp, which is called “The Jungle” by locals, is home to thousands of refugees hoping for a better life in the United Kingdom.

The U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants addressed the question of refugee food security. Ki-moon urged leaders to make policy decisions which would empower immigrants to seek and hold employment. To become sustainable, migrants need to have access to land, banking services and freedom of movement.

World leaders at the U.N. summit did more than just craft a paper promise. Under the U.N. directive, more children will be able to attend school and get an education. More immigrants will be able to seek safe, sustainable employment. By making poverty alleviation a top priority, the U.N. has opened a door to opportunity for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Peter Nilson

Photo: Flickr