Published by Samantha Wolf
The UNHCR is moving into its final stage of action this weekend after successfully passing a resolution.
The first topic of debate for UNHCR was the Syrian refugee crisis, which is undoubtedly impacting several nations in a number of ways. France, Ukraine, China, the Philippines and Portugal collaborated on a resolution regarding a Safe Path program for refugees. This program would increase communication between countries to regulate movement of refugees and ensure their safety and comfort in their new home.
This is an immediate solution, albeit a short-term one. Pros for the resolution included the deliberate care for each refugee and overall smoothing of transitions, but con speakers pointed it out as a short-term solution, questioning the stability of nations like France who are currently facing intense xenophobia. Ultimately, the resolution failed in an exact tie.
However, this was not the only resolution on the table: Ghana, Nigeria, Iraq, Turkey and Canada drafted a plan that addressed a range of factors. Their resolution included funding for refugee camps, improved access to health care and resources, a Resettling Assistance Program (RAP), and education programs. Their biggest feature is a six-step plan for security and health screening of refugees, insuring their wellness and legitimacy.
After receiving a friendly amendment with a more detailed six-step plan, the resolution was voted on. Speakers for argued that it was an effective method of ending wars and giving refugees the option to return. Critics argued that methods of funding would be hard to come by and nations appeared to give unfair privileges to asylum seekers. After a vote, the resolution successfully passed.
Next up is the topic of IDPs - internally displaced people. Turkey describes IDPs as being “people that are halfway asylum seekers. They’re trapped within their own countries.” In other words, IDPs are people who have been forced to leave their homes, like refugees, but they have not yet made it outside of their country. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as insufficient funds, not having a place to go, or being trapped by border laws, etc.
According to the delegate from Turkey, “it’s important to get to the root of the problem.” For them, this means awareness. The UN has not been as involved in the treatment of IDPs as, for example, the Syrian refugee crisis. “There are so many problems in the world, so first is awareness. We can find some solutions after,” they say.
However, awareness is not the only topic delegates plan to bring up in today’s committee. According to the representative of Bolivia, “the main thing is their safety and making sure they’re not in harm’s way.” Israel, too, would like to see IDPs treated the same as refugees with universal rights. “We want them to be protected under the same international law as refugees are,” explains the Israeli delegate.
After an eventful morning, the UNHCR is ready for another session. We can expect lots of great debate regarding the treatment of these citizens in crisis.