The UN General Assembly on 19 September 2016 will host a high-level meeting to address large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach. The issue of large movements of refugees and migrants is too vast for any one state to handle on its own. The international community must work together to find durable solutions.
• Special Adviser
In January 2016, the UN Secretary-General appointed a Special Adviser, Karen AbuZayd, to work with United Nations entities and undertake consultations with Member States and other relevant stakeholders in the lead up to the Summit. This will include overseeing the Secretary-General’s report on large movements of refugees and migrants, to be submitted to the General Assembly in May 2016.
In February 2016, the President of the General Assembly appointed H.E. Mrs. Dina Kawar, Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and H.E. Mr. David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland as co-facilitators to lead open, transparent and inclusive consultations with Member States to finalise the organisational arrangements, including on a possible outcome, for the High level meeting in September.
Fleeing armed conflict and persecution at home, and deteriorating living conditions in neighbouring countries in which they had initially sought refuge, people are risking their lives in growing numbers to find a safe place to live in Europe and beyond. Shown, at sunset, a group of Syrian and Afghan refugees arrive at the Greek island of Lesvos -- the main point of entry for refugees to Europe -- after making the crossing from Turkey in a rubber raft. UNHCR/Ivor Prickett
More than 400,000 refugees and migrants have undertaken the dangerous crossing to Greece in 2015 alone, up from 219,000 in 2014. People smugglers charge between $1,200 to $1,400 per person for the trip and cram as many as they can into boats, sending them out to sea without a captain. Many of the boats capsize. In 2015, nearly 3,000 people have perished or gone missing and the death toll continues to rise. Shown, a Syrian woman cries with relief as she embraces her three young children after a rough crossing. UNHCR/Ivor Prickett
Travelling by land and sea from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, refugees and migrants face new trials and dangers at every turn. Migrant women and children are especially vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. Pictured, refugees approach the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Earlier clashes with Macedonian security forces were calmed when the authorities on both sides, with help of UNHCR, created a system to control the flow of people through the border. UNHCR/Ivor Prickett
Forced to sleep outside for nights in a row at a ‘collection point’ and prevented from moving on to Budapest, refugees in Röszke, Hungary, confront the police. Some then broke through the police lines and set out on the road to Budapest. But by nightfall, most had been persuaded to go to a registration centre, which turned out to be full, resulting in their having to spend yet another night outside. By then, hundreds of additional refugees had arrived from Serbia at the original 'collection point.' UNHCR/Mark Henley
Education is highly valued among Syrians, who once enjoyed free, mandatory schooling before the war. The worsening conditions they have been facing in exile in neighbouring countries are having a devastating impact -- some 90,000 Syrians of school age now have no formal education. This is one of the motivating factors for families trying to relocate to Europe. Shown, in Hungary, a Syrian boy looks up at police attempting to stop the refugees from leaving for Budapest. UNHCR/Mark Henley
Unable to cope with the flood of refugees streaming across their borders every day, some countries closed entry points along their borders. For example, the Hungarian Government built a fence along its border with Serbia and instituted a law criminalizing irregular entry into Hungary. Senior UN officials condemned the actions. Soon afterwards, the UN welcomed a European Union decision to increase aid to countries neighbouring war-torn Syria and to relocate 120,000 people within Europe, but said much more needed to be done. Pictured, refugees are seen through the razor wire fence in Hungary. UNHCR/Mark Henley
Stranded for days at Budapest's main railway station as the Hungarian Government cancelled all trains to Germany and shut its borders to Western Europe, hundreds of mostly Syrian refugees, many of whom had already purchased train tickets, set out to walk the 250 kilometres (155 miles) to Vienna. UNHCR/Mark Henley
Thousands of refugees arrive in Vienna, many having walked dozens of kilometres shod only in sandals and flip-flops. This has led to a huge demand for shoes. In response, locals in Vienna have donated shoes for the refugees to replace their worn-out footware. UNHCR/Michael Schöppl
The United Nations is working alongside Governments and partner humanitarian agencies across Europe to provide aid to refugees and migrants and ensure that their rights and dignity are respected. It is also working with countries to develop longer-term solutions that are effective, feasible and in line with universal human rights and humanitarian standards, including the right to claim asylum. Shown, in Hungary, near the border with Serbia, staff of the UN Refugee Agency install a tent for new refugees, thousands of whom arrive every day with the hope of reaching European countries such as Sweden or Germany. UNHCR/Olivier Laban-Mattei