UN Calls for Responsibility Sharing in Refugee Crisis, Highlights Stateless Minorities
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for more equitable sharing of responsibility for refugee resettlement.

He also launched a report on statelessness, cautioning that failure to address stateless minorities' marginalization will lead to instability.

OHCHR expressed concern about the unfolding humanitarian crisis on PNG’s Manus Island, as Australia closed its offshore immigration detention facility.

3 November 2017: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi presented his annual report to the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Third Committee, calling for more equitable sharing of responsibility for refugee resettlement. Meanwhile, OHCHR expressed concern about an unfolding humanitarian crisis as Australia closed its offshore immigration detention facility, leaving around 600 asylum seekers at the location. The UN reports that refugee numbers worldwide have passed 68 million “and counting.”

Grandi addressed the Third Committee on 1 November 2017, and the UN Security Council on 2 November. He called on governments to ease pressure on host countries, noting that several developing countries have received large numbers of refugees, whereas less affected, wealthier States have closed their borders. Grandi drew attention to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework annexed to the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, emphasizing the need to address the causes of conflict. In Security Council discussions, the Russian Federation asserted that responsibility for refugee flows should rest with States that had intervened in the Middle East and Africa.

Third Committee discussions also focused ways to counter racism and xenophobia, and on the need to treat refugees and migrants with dignity and respect. Thailand recommended dialogue between migrants and host communities.

On 3 November, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged Australia to transfer around 600 asylum seekers on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG), to the Australian mainland. The asylum seekers were left on Manus after the Australian Government closed its immigration detention and processing center in PNG on 31 October, and are refusing to leave the compound due to a history of violent attacks by local people. In a press statement, OHCHR reminded Australia of its human rights obligations toward asylum seekers, and expressed concern over the unsustainable and inhumane nature of its offshore detention policy.

On 3 November, Grandi launched a report on statelessness, titled ‘This Is Our Home: Stateless Minorities and Their Search for Citizenship.’ The report highlights the need to address the marginalization of stateless minorities, noting that failure to do so will lead to instability in countries. The report is based on consultations with members of stateless or “at risk” groups in several countries, including Madagascar, Kenya and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The launch marks the third anniversary of the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) #belong campaign, which urges all States to naturalize stateless minority groups and ensure universal birth registration, including of children born to minorities. [UN Press Release on Australia] [UN Press Release on Third Committee Discussion] [UN Press Release on Security Council Discussion] [UN Press Release on Report Launch] [‘This Is Our Home: Stateless Minorities and Their Search for Citizenship’]

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