UN chief calls for addressing “root causes” to improve world’s refugee situation

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GENEVA, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed here on Tuesday that the “root causes” should be addressed so as to improve the world’s response to the refugee situation.

“This is the moment to ensure that the human rights of refugees are upheld, to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime and to address the root causes that lead people to flee in the first place,” he said at a press conference during the ongoing Global Refugee Forum.

At the same time, the UN chief said, the world needs to change the way it respond to refugee situations so as to better cope with present realities and prepare for future challenges.

Forced displacement around the world has been rising steadily in recent years. The latest UN figures showed that today more than 70 million people are forcibly displaced, double the level of 20 years ago.

According to the UN chief, forced displacement and humanitarian needs will likely continue their troubling rise because conflicts have become more complex and interlinked, and at the same time, the megatrends of climate change, population growth, rapid urbanization, food insecurity and water scarcity will all make things worse.

“We need more international cooperation by all relevant partners, and a genuine commitment to sharing responsibilities among Member States,” he noted.

Answering a question from the press, Guterres said it is important to understand that “we cannot have a concept of burden sharing based on the idea that developing countries keep the refugees and developed countries support financially the developing countries to keep the refugees.”

“I think burden sharing is also for developed countries to have their borders open to asylum seekers seeking protection, and to give a fair treatment to their claims, because we cannot have two worlds,” he added.

Also at Tuesday’s press conference, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told journalists that 3,000 participants are registered for the Forum, which is not only the first-ever of its kind and also the biggest event in the history of the UN refugee agency.

For Grandi, the difficulties of the world’s refugee situation lay on various elements: the prolonged conflicts, the complicate flows of population, other causes like the climate change that move people along, and the politicization of the refugee issues.

The three-day Global Refugee Forum kicked off on Monday in Geneva. The event is hosted by the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the government of Switzerland and co-convened by Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Germany, Pakistan and Turkey.

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