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UN to hold first-ever summit on refugees, migrants in New York to protect their rights

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly summit, the US President Obama will host the Leaders' Summit on Refugees on September 20. Photograph: (AFP)

WION United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY, United States Sep 19, 2016, 02.15 AM (IST)
World leaders are arriving in New York today to attend  The UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2016 addressing "large movements of refugees and migrants" for the first time. 

The UN General Assembly is organising  the Leaders summit on Tuesday where heads of the states will discuss large movements of refugees across nations and ways to respond to them in a humane manner. 

The aim of the meet is to "strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity for creating a more responsible, predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants," according to the United Nations. 

The leaders are expected to approve a document for a coordinated approach that will protect the human rights of refugees and migrants, Indian news agency PTI reported. 

UN's high commissioner for refugees, Fillipo Grandi told the Associated Press: "It's very interesting because if we are able to translate that paper into a response in which many actors are going to participate, we will solve a lot of problems in emergency responses and in long-term refugee situations like the Syrian situation."

However, the document is not legally binding and it plays a crucial role now when the United States and Europe are grappling with migrant issues. 

An earlier draft had called on countries to resettle 10 per cent of the refugee population each year. The draft was rejected by a number of countries drawing heavy criticism from human rights group as missed opportunity. 

The nations had objected to the language used in the draft which stated that "children should never be detained". In the new agreement, this has been amended to "children should seldom,if ever, be detained. "

Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty said: "Instead of sharing responsibility, world leaders shirked it. The UN summit has been sabotaged by states acting in self-interest, leaving millions of refugees in dire situations around the world on the edge of a precipice."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose report on refugees and migrants forms the basis of summit document, said:  "While we all wish it could be a stronger outcome document ... All 193 member states had to agree on their commitment. As you will see, my report was a strong one."

"I hope that, as the two compacts are adopted over the coming year and a half, some stronger language and commitment and elements from the report will reappear in the course of this negotiation,"he added. 

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly summit, the US President Obama will host the Leaders' Summit on Refugees on September 20.

The event will be co-hosted by Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico and Sweden. The Leaders Summit will discuss refugees only and will "appeal to all governments to pledge significant new commitments on refugees." 

(WION with inputs from PTI)

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