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UN Approves Compact to Support World's Refugees

UN Approves Compact to Support World's Refugees

Tuesday, 18 December, 2018 - 09:30
A Syrian refugee boy walks at a refugee camp in Zahrani town, southern Lebanon June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

The UN General Assembly approved a non-binding compact Monday that provides robust support for countries where most of the world's more than 25 million refugees live. Only the US and Hungary objected, as reported by The Associated Press (AP).

The Global Compact on Refugees also sets out measures to share responsibility to help those who are forced to flee their countries.

UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi called the compact "historic" in a tweet.

The vote in the 193-member assembly was 181-2, with the Dominican Republic, Eritrea and Libya abstaining, AP reported.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the Global Compact is very important because "in recent years, we have seen a contagion of closed borders, contrary to international refugee and human rights law."

"Millions of refugees are facing years in exile, or risking their lives on dangerous journeys to an uncertain future," she told an event marking the adoption.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Grandi stressed that the compact is not just "a UN document that stays in a drawer."

The Global Compact for Migration is expected to be endorsed by the General Assembly on Wednesday. According to AP, it was was adopted at a time when a record-high 68.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes. This includes 25.4 million who have crossed borders to become refugees, 40 million who are displaced within their home countries and 3.1 million who are seeking asylum.

According to the UN refugee agency, nine out of 10 refugees live in developing countries, where basic services like health or education are already strained.

Grandi stressed that it's "a tough world" for refugees and migrants who are often stigmatized and politicized as threats. Despite the Trump administration's opposition to the compact, he noted that the US has voiced support for refugees. And his office is "about to close the year with the highest-ever contribution from the US to the UNHCR."

Hungarian Ambassador Katalin Annamaria Bogyay, whose government since 2015 has adopted increasingly strict anti-immigration policies, said existing international laws "adequately address refugee and asylum matters" and the compact was not needed

"The government is also concerned that the differentiation between refugees and migrants as well as the voluntary nature of responsibility sharing is not adequately reflected in the document, she said as reported by AP.

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