New York

7 April 2017

Secretary-General's remarks at the General Assembly meeting on Global Awareness of the Tragedies of Irregular Migrants in the Mediterranean Basin with Specific Emphasis on Syrian Asylum Seekers [as delivered]

[Delivered by Maria Luisa Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet]

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
 
I thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this meeting.
 
I am privileged to be here on behalf of the Secretary-General, who as you know spent a decade on the frontlines of the global refugee crisis.
 
Just last week, he met with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Iraq where he not only called on the wider international community to increase their humanitarian support, but also to make sure that more opportunities are given to the refugees.
 
The General Assembly brought welcome global attention to this issue at its High-Level Meeting in late 2015.
 
Regrettably, since then, millions of people on the move have continued to suffer. Tens of millions of women, men and children remain uprooted. They have been forced to risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea to escape violence, intimidation and discrimination.
 
Refugees and migrants often move along the same routes – facing the same risks and suffering the same human rights violations.
 
The tragedies and loss of life continue day after day.
 
We are especially appalled at the suffering of the Syrian people, with the war now in its seventh year. Some 11 million Syrians have fled the country. More than six million remain displaced inside Syria.
 
Millions have lost their lives, their loved ones, their hope.
 
The misery is immense – but there are also signs of humanity and solidarity.
 
Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan host the largest numbers of refugees in the region. Their communities have taken extraordinary measures to provide assistance and protection to hundreds of thousands of refugees.
 
We have also seen openness in other parts of the world.
 
These are glimmers of hope in an environment of intensifying xenophobic rhetoric and restrictive policies which fuel violence and discrimination against refugees and migrants.
 
Mesdames et Messieurs,
 
En tant que représentants de la communauté internationale, nous devons condamner avec la plus grande fermeté tout acte de violence et de discrimination. Nous devons aussi comprendre pourquoi les plus vulnérables deviennent des boucs émissaires, et lutter contre les causes de ce phénomène.
 
Lorsqu’ils entament leur périple, la plupart des réfugiés et des migrants sont pratiquement  dénués de tout, et leur situation à l’arrivée est encore pire.
 
S’ils sont sans doute pauvres en biens matériels, on oublie trop souvent que les réfugiés et les migrants compensent largement cette indigence par leur énergie, leur intelligence, leurs compétences et leur culture.
 
Il nous appartient collectivement de saluer les contributions des réfugiés et des migrants à nos sociétés et d’inciter les citoyens de nos pays à adopter et à promouvoir nos valeurs communes de tolérance et de respect de la dignité humaine.
 
That is why the United Nations is carrying out our “Together” campaign for respect, safety and dignity for those who leave their home and country in search of a better future.
 
Together enables us to join forces in an effort to change negative narratives and attitudes towards refugees and migrants.
 
The Together campaign goes to the heart of the mission of the United Nations. And governments are its real stakeholders. I ask you to boost this initiative so we can rise above the fractured discourse on refugees and migrants and adopt courageous policies that guarantee the safety and security of our citizens without compromising on compassion and empathy. 
 
In the words of the Secretary-General: “No country can do it alone and no country can refuse to do its part”.
 
Member States have embarked on an ambitious path toward the adoption of two global compacts in 2018 – one on refugees and one on safe, orderly and regular migration. 
 
This commitment represents our best opportunity to improve the lives of the millions of people on the move.
 
Señoras y señores:
 
El sistema de las Naciones Unidas en su conjunto está preparado para apoyar y acompañar a los Estados Miembros en este proceso histórico; para ayudarnos a avanzar hacia un mundo en el que la movilidad humana sea una elección, no una necesidad para la supervivencia, en el que la responsabilidad se reparta entre los países y las comunidades, y en el que las personas vivan en condiciones de seguridad y dignidad.
 
Nuestros esfuerzos colectivos no pueden centrarse solo en los síntomas de la migración irregular y las corrientes de refugiados, también deben abordar las causas subyacentes de que tantas personas se vean obligadas a trasladarse y arriesgarse a caer en circunstancias aún más precarias.
 
La prevención es nuestra principal prioridad.
 
Para poder mantener la promesa de la Agenda 2030 para el Desarrollo Sostenible, no solo debemos poner fin a los conflictos – también tenemos que impedir la guerra y sostener la paz.
 
We must invest in inclusivity and cohesion, prioritize development, protect human rights and enable all people to realize their potential.
 
This is our shared responsibility.
 
It requires connecting mediation and peace and security efforts with investments in sustainable development and human rights.
 
When we protect human rights and defend human dignity, we will enable people to flourish where they are. They can help build a future of peace and sustainable development.
 
Let us help create opportunities wherever refugees and migrants live so they do not feel compelled to take dangerous journeys elsewhere.  To uphold the rights to asylum and non-refoulement. To counter hatred, racism and xenophobia with commitment to tolerance, inclusion and humanity.
 
Thank you.