On Tuesday (20 September), the representatives of 52 countries and organisations gathered in New York for a Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis at the instigation of US President Barack Obama. German Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier co‑hosted the event. Steinmeier called for fairness in sharing the burden of taking in refugees and appealed to the international community also to address the root causes of flight and migration.
Addressing the root causes
Last year flight and migration were the central focus of the UN General Assembly as well as numerous meetings and consultations. This year the situation is even more dramatic: there are currently 65 million refugees worldwide. “We have to live up to our responsibility”, Foreign Minister Steinmeier declared against this backdrop at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on Tuesday.
He went on to say, “We need to pursue a comprehensive approach linking migration, development and security.” He said that the conflicts that were forcing millions of people from their homes could only be tackled with long‑term political solutions. He maintained that financial engagement had to be accompanied by efforts to tackle the root causes of flight and migration. This is all the more urgent this week, after the recently negotiated ceasefire for Syria seems about to fall apart. “We must finally move ahead in tackling this crisis. That is the moral and political duty of each and every one of us,” Steinmeier declared with regard to the situation in Syria.
The burden needs to be shared fairly
The issues of flight, displacement and migration affect all members of the international community. After the meeting, Steinmeier said: “At any rate, we can note today that the international community is highly aware of its responsibility not to leave the refugee flows to a few countries, but rather that the burden must be shared fairly.” The German Foreign Minister stated that Germany had so far set a good example in this area. He commented that the world now needed “global management of migration”.
Obama thanks Germany for its engagement
In his remarks, US President Obama, as the main host of the summit, described the largest flow of refugees since the Second World War as “a crisis of epic proportions”. He thanked Germany for its engagement in addressing the challenges posed by displacement and migration. Germany is now the third‑largest provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide, after the United States and the European Union. Steinmeier explained that in the past year Germany had doubled its funds for humanitarian crises in order “to do what was necessary, particularly to provide the international aid agencies with the funds they need so that refugees are not at risk of starvation or forced to leave their home regions, especially the regions bordering on the major trouble spots.”