THE selfish interests of a few nations are the root cause of the large-scale displacement of people the world over, and yesterday’s adoption of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants is a step in the right direction in ensuring dignity for all, President Mugabe has said. He was addressing world leaders at the United Nations headquarters yesterday as the organisation adopted a key declaration in the midst of a growing refugee crisis whose roots lie in American and European destabilisation of fragile states.
Though not legally binding, the declaration calls on countries to protect the human rights of the world’s more than 65 million refugees, increase humanitarian aid, help with resettlement, standardise responses and provide better education and employment opportunities for displaced people.
President Mugabe said, “Over the past year we have witnessed harrowing images of refugees risking their lives to flee the dire realities in their countries of origin. We have been equally shocked at the hostile reception refugees have often been subjected to.
“Against this background, we are pleased at the convening of this important meeting that allows us to explore a collective blueprint for dealing with large movements of refugees and migrants. We are also pleased that the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants highlights the importance of addressing the root cause of the large movements.”
He went on: “We have noted that a large portion of refugees that have landed on European shores originated from countries in armed conflict such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
“We therefore are convinced that a return to the UN Charter ideals of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war and refraining from using armed force is critical in addressing the root cause of large movements of refugees.”
He said the predilection to military force by some countries had needlessly created a refugee crisis.
“More often than not, member states have been too keen to resort to force without exhausting peaceful means. This hegemonic military doctrine and adventurism, fuelled by a desire to achieve the narrow national interests of a powerful few, is the root of the proliferation of armed conflicts which have spawned so many refugees today.”
President Mugabe also said the responses to an influx of refugees had seen certain countries, within the context of supposedly combatting terrorism, treating displaced people and migrants as terrorists.
“We have a collective responsibility to change the narrative on migrants and migration in our countries. Many countries owe their success in business and scientific prowess to the invaluable contributions of migrants and refugees.
“We commend those states that have, despite their own limitations, opened their borders to migrant communities. We in Zimbabwe have hosted many refugees from conflict-affected countries. We call for a balanced focus on the humanitarian plight of migrants and refugees world over.”
President Mugabe is in New York for the 71st UN General Assembly, and he is accompanied by First Lady Grace Mugabe, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Dr Walter Mzembi. herald