The United Nations General Assembly met last week to tackle the global refugee crisis in the shadow of terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, with top officials pleading that the door for genuine refuge not be slammed shut in the name of security.
“How are we to balance security needs and moral and legal obligations to protect refugees and others in need of protection? …This balance must be found without giving in on our basic values and without closing the door to those who have already endured tremendous suffering,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said.
“Those who flee this violence should not be punished twice – first by war or oppressive forces which persecute them at home. And, second, by unjust, dangerous stigma which even shockingly associate the refugees with their attackers. The refugees, if any, understand better than anyone the barbaric cruelty of violent extremism.”
General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft also addressed the security issue, which has seen calls after the attacks for limiting refugee access lest terrorist infiltrate among them. “In no way do those attacks reduce the moral and legal obligations of the international community towards displaced people,” he stressed. “On the contrary, they serve to underline even further why so many people are risking their lives to secure international protection and why we – the international community – must not fail them, for a second time.”