Global refugee crisis needs greater international commitment: Maleeha

New York, 05 November, 2018

Pakistan said at the UN that the unprecedented large-scale displacement of people warranted a greater commitment by the global community to address the crisis.

“Wars, human rights abuses and protracted refugee situations have become endemic”, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the General Assembly's Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural question.

Speaking in the debate on refugees, returnees and displaced persons, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN said the world was witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record and the “the crisis had morphed into a catastrophe”.

The number of displaced persons, she said, had surpassed 25.4 million, half of whom were under the age of 18.

Ambassador Lodhi pointed out that while low and middle-income countries continued to bear the heaviest burden of hosting 85 percent of refugees globally, some developed countries were moving in the opposite direction.

“Over 60 per cent of refugees under UNHCR’s (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) responsibility currently live in just 10 countries”, she said.

Assailing the practice by some countries of denying entry to refugees and placing extra hurdles in their way, the Pakistani envoy stressed that global refugee crisis was a shared duty of the international community.

“The international community has an abiding responsibility to assist refugee hosting countries”, she added.

“There is an urgent need for equitable burden and responsibility sharing”, she maintained.

Ambassador Lodhi also stressed that new refugee crises should not take attention away from protracted refugee situations.

Reminding the international community about Pakistan’s unparalleled generosity of hosting millions of Afghan refugees for almost four decades, Ambassador Lodhi said, “we opened both our homes and hearts to what has now become the largest protracted refugee presence anywhere in the world since the Second World War”.

Despite the economic challenges, Ambassador Lodhi said, the Government and people of Pakistan continue to provide hospitality and thereby upholding the principles of international refugee protection.

“We consider providing refuge to those in need our humanitarian as well as religious duty”, she added.

Ambassador Lodhi concluded by saying that addressing the refugee crisis necessitated a comprehensive approach. “Our aim”, she said, “should be to find sustainable solutions by addressing the underlying causes of conflicts”.