UN calls on countries to take in Syrian refugees

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls on countries to show solidarity and take in 480,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement by 2018, stating that military efforts are not solution

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a meeting on global responsibility for the admission of Syrian refugees at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 30, 2016.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Wednesday called on all countries to show solidarity and take in about half a million Syrian refugees for resettlement by 2018.

"Today i ask that countries act with solidarity in the name of our shared humanity," the secretary general said during his opening speech at a conference hosted by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Geneva.

The UN is aiming to re-settle about 480,000 Syrian refugees, some 10 percent of the Syrian refugee population, by the end of 2018 while calling on "leaders to counter fear mongering with reassurance" and to "fight inaccurate information with the truth."

Almost half a million people have died in the conflict in Syria while over 5 million have been displaced.

"The best way to offer hope to Syrians is by ending the conflict," Ban said.

"We have a cessation of hostilities, by and large holding for over a month, but the parties must consolidate and expand it into a ceasefire and ultimately to a political solution through dialogue."

The secretary general asserted that "there is no military solution to the conflict" in Syria and there is no alternative to a political transition to construct a new Syria.

Ban urged countries to make new pledges and execute concrete actions for admitting Syrian refugees, saying that "the world must step up" and tyat all countries can do more.

"Syria’s children, Syria’s future, are counting on everyone here today to be generous, to show solidarity, to ease their suffering and end their plight."

He added that when the crisis is "managed properly, accepting refugees is a win for everyone."

Ban criticised attempts by leaders to demonise refugees, saying that "they are not only offensive; they are factually incorrect."

"Refugees are famously devoted to education, improvement and self-reliance, they bring new skills and experience to an ageing workforce," Ban said.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi speaks at the conference.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, highlighted that refugees are facing increasing obstacles.

"We must find a way to manage this crisis in a more humane, equitable and organised manner. It is only possible if the international community is united and in agreement on how to move forward," Grandi said.

More than 5 million refugees have been forced to flee abroad, mostly to neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq with Turkey holding a record of more than 2.7 million.

Ban said many people value hope more than their own lives, "as we have seen on the shores of Turkey and Southern Europe.”

He emphasised the benefits of refugees, stating, "today they are refugees, but tomorrow they can be students, professors, scientists and researchers, workers and caregivers."

The secretary general shared an incident that he came across at the Zaatari camp in Jordan, saying, “I met a young girl who wants to become an interpreter. I said that if she worked hard, maybe she could find a job with the United Nations because we always need interpreters!”

"I could see her dreams shining in her eyes," he added.

"For me, these stories have personal meaning. Whenever I see people forced from their homes by war, I remember my own family fleeing our village, more than sixty years ago."

Ban finished his opening speech by asking for countries to do "much much more at this time."

Syrian refugee mothers carry their babes at Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, March 1, 2016.


TRTWorld and agencies