ISLAMABAD:(APS)Nov 5,2015-At the United Nations, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi warned that the global refugee crisis could mark a new “flag of shame” for the international community if urgent action was not taken, says a press release received here today from New York.
Participating in a Third Committee debate on refugees and displaced persons, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN said, “The international community, to its shame, has ignored massive human suffering in the past. The current crisis could, but should not, mark a new flag of shame”.
She regretted that the response of the international community to the unfolding refugee tragedy has been much too “slow and inadequate”.
Describing the the humanitarian crisis to be of historic proportions – Ambassador Lodhi said that a global wave of displaced persons and refugees is sweeping through Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
“These massive human movements”, she said, “are the consequence of conflicts, persecution as well as poverty and injustice.”
The crisis required a humane response. But it also needed to be addressed at its roots, by a greater focus by the UN on conflict resolution and prevention. This, she said, involved a strategic approach to finding a durable and effective answer to current and future crises.
Ambassador Lodhi reminded the world body that despite modest resources, Pakistan had been a host to millions of Afghan refugees for over three decades. “We continue to be the world’s top refugee hosting country in terms of the largest, protracted refugee population anywhere”, she added.
Although Pakistan’s resources had been strained this had not shaken the country’s resolve to live up to its humanitarian responsibility.
She expressed the hope that adequate international support would be forthcoming as Pakistan worked to resolve this most protracted refugee situation in the world.
In the meantime, Pakistan would remain committed to the dignified and voluntary return of Afghan refugees. She urged the international community to help the Government of Afghanistan to create the necessary conditions and pull factors for the permanent and safe return of refugees.
In her statement, Ambassador Lodhi also highlighted the fact that today more than half the world’s refugee population were children.
In refugee settings, she said, children suffer from lack of proper nutrition as well as access to education. “They are also exposed to heightened risks of child labor and other forms of exploitation”. “Without appropriate protection, we risk losing a whole generation”, she warned.
Ambassador Lodhi concluded by saying that while the crisis of new refugees calls for urgent action, “we must also keep in view the need for the international community to deliver on its commitment to address refugee situations of longer standing”.