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Reaffirm ‘specific rights’ of refugees, UN urges

UN agency urges General Assembly meeting to reaffirm ‘specific rights’ of refugees

The United Nations refugee agency today urged Member States to reaffirm their recognition of the “specific rights and needs” of refugees, including the fundamental obligation not to return them to countries where their life or liberty would be at risk.

These were among a series of recommendations and observations made by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the run-up to the General Assembly’s high-level dialogue on international migration and development to be held during its 61st session in mid-September.

“Given that migration movements sometimes include people in need of international refugee protection, UNHCR believes it can make an important contribution to efforts to manage this phenomenon where it involves people who fall within our mandate,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva.

“UNHCR urges that the meeting reaffirm the international community's longstanding recognition of the specific rights and needs of refugees, including the fundamental obligation of States to refrain from returning them to countries where their life or liberty would be at risk.”

Mr. Redmond also stressed the importance of “ensuring that the rights of all refugees and migrants are upheld,” highlighting that the core UN human rights instruments are universal in their application and generally apply to citizens and non-nationals alike, including those who have moved in an irregular manner.

“In the context of mixed movements of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, UNHCR urges the High-Level Dialogue to acknowledge that measures taken to curb irregular migration must not prevent refugees from gaining access to the territory and asylum procedure of another State.”

Another of the agency’s recommendations included the observation that while large-scale refugee influxes can place a huge burden on host countries and communities, refugees can also be “agents of development” if they are given the opportunity to contribute to the national economy by using their skills and productive capacities.

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