World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Asylum Debate Ignores Problems Faced By Refugees

Asylum Debate Ignores Real Problems Faced By Refugees, Says UN Official

The United Nations refugee agency's top protection official said today she is alarmed that in many countries the debate on asylum is distorted by false concerns and ignores the genuine suffering still faced by refugees.

Erika Feller, Director of the International Protection Department at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told the annual meeting of the agency's governing board, taking place this week in Geneva, that politicizing the asylum debate does not solve the migration concerns of States.

Ms. Feller called for greater cooperation between countries so they can share their refugee responsibilities and better manage the movement of people.

Her warning comes as the number of people seeking asylum has fallen sharply since 2001, driven partly by the conclusions of several long-running conflicts, such as in Afghanistan and Angola. At the start of this year there were only 17.1 million people who came under the concern of UNHCR, down by almost 22 per cent from 21.8 million in January 2001.

Despite this drop in numbers, refugees and asylum-seekers are facing an increasingly hostile environment in many countries today, Ms. Feller said.

"It is currently in vogue to talk of a new refugee and asylum reality…[but] the problems of the refugee are perennial. Confronting intolerance and fear, being a foreigner in someone else's land, searching for a safe haven and waiting for solutions: these are recurring features of the refugee experience."

Ms. Feller said she was particularly worried that understandable migration concerns about preventing terrorism and fighting trans-national crime were being blurred with the issues of asylum-seekers and refugees.

"Equating asylum with a safe haven for terrorists is not only legally wrong and unsupported by the facts, but it serves to vilify refugees in the public mind and promotes the singling out of persons of particular races or religions for discrimination and hate-based harassment."

She stressed how important it is for nations to uphold their responsibilities under the 1951 Refugee Convention and not to seek to narrow their commitments.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: COVID Contributed To 69,000 Malaria Deaths WHO Finds, Though ‘Doomsday Scenario’ Averted
Disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in considerable increases in malaria cases and deaths between 2019 and 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday... More>>

Save The Children: World Leaders Urged To Halt Escalating Hunger Crisis

A group of 120 non-governmental organisations has joined forces in an open letter calling on world leaders to do more to halt a devastating global hunger crisis as new analysis shows the number of people likely to be in need of humanitarian aid in 2022 could rise by 17%...More>>

WMO: Another La Niña Impacts Temperatures And Precipitation – But Not Climate Change
La Niña has developed for the second consecutive year and is expected to last into early 2022, influencing temperatures and precipitation. Despite the cooling influence of this naturally occurring climate phenomenon, temperatures in many parts of the world are expected to be above average because of the accumulated heat trapped in the atmosphere...

Cook Islands: First COVID Case "historical"

The 10 year old child who provided two ‘weak positive’ covid test results after arriving in Rarotonga last Thursday, has returned a negative result in his latest test. That means he’s not infectious and this is an historical case... More>>

Oxfam: Failure To Vaccinate The World Created Perfect Breeding Ground For Omicron, Say Campaigners

Campaigners from the People’s Vaccine Alliance say the refusal of pharmaceutical companies to openly share their vaccine science and technology and the lack of action from rich countries to ensure access to vaccines globally have created the perfect breeding ground for new variants such as Omicron... More>>

World Food Programme: Millions More In Need Of Food Assistance As A Direct Result Of Conflict In Northern Ethiopia

The number of people in need of humanitarian food assistance across northern Ethiopia has grown to an estimated 9.4 million as a direct result of ongoing conflict, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today... More>>