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UN refugee meeting: World leaders slammed for "shocking failure of leadership" over global refugee crisis

Ahead of two high-profile international meetings in New York on refugees next week, Amnesty has warned that unless world leaders urgently agree a solution to help refugees reach safety, more and more people will be forced into the hands of smugglers and into taking ever more dangerous journeys.

On Monday (19 September), Prime Minister Theresa May is due to join leaders of UN member states in New York where they are expected to adopt an agreement on responding to the global refugee crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had put forward proposals on sharing responsibility for refugees, however in discussions ahead of the summit, governments – including Russia, China and the EU – stripped the plan of any requirement to take in specific numbers of people, rendering it toothless.

However, on Tuesday US President Barack Obama will host a meeting to appeal to leaders to agree specific commitments that will help end the suffering of refugees across the world. Amnesty is calling on governments, particularly from wealthier countries, to commit to resettling significantly more refugees and to provide them with legal ways to find safety.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“The UN summit has been two years in the making, and world leaders should be ready to announce steps to end the crisis. Instead they have been engaged in a race to the bottom, prioritising narrow self-interest over the rights of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet and trying to outdo each other in hostility and obstruction.

“This shocking failure of leadership so far has left hundreds of thousands of refugees stuck in appalling conditions around the globe and forced to take ever more dangerous journeys to safety. Instead of putting up more barriers to keep people out, Theresa May should go to New York and finally place the UK on the right side of history by committing to take our fair share of responsibility for both hosting and assisting refugees. The UK must urgently provide the safe and legal routes refugees fleeing violence and persecution desperately need.”

There are 21 million refugees in the world today, according to UNHCR, with only 14% of them in developed countries. By contrast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey collectively host a third of the world’s refugees, though account for just 1.6% of the world’s economy.

“I welcome” campaign

Amnesty has long lobbied governments around the world to do more to share responsibility to fulfil refugees’ rights, and has this week launched a global campaign called “I Welcome” calling on governments to welcome refugees.

Thousands of people are expected to attend a Refugees Welcome march in London on Saturday 17 September, calling on the government to do more to help refugees.

More details here:

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