united_nations19 September 2016: Civil society representatives discussed challenges and opportunities for addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, on the sidelines of the UN High-Level Meeting on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) organized the high-level event, which convened on 19 September 2016, in New York, US. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared his own experiences as a refugee after the Korean war, expressing his debt and gratitude to the UN, and saying he will do everything possible “to enable migrants and refugees to contribute to our common future.” Observing that more than half of all refugees are children, Ban stressed children’s human rights and underscored education as a human right. Ban urged civil society “to raise your voices and push for results” on the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, the outcome document adopted by the High-level Meeting. Ban also stressed the “legitimate right” of civil society to raise its voice, noting its “strong and trusted voices,” including on good practices in responding to movements of refugees and migrants.

In an opening session, young refugees from Syria shared their perspectives on resettlement, inclusion and the Summit commitment to ensure that all children are enrolled in a safe learning environment within a few months of initial displacement. A dialogue also took place among refugees, migrants and Member States.

Participants addressed the rights of migrants, including the right to education and the importance of mental health services for refugees. Participants also called for action to ensure that internally displaced persons (IDPs) do not become refugees. [UN Secretary-General Statement] [UN-NGLS Website] [UN-NGLS Twitter Feed] [Summit Website] [IISD RS Sources]