Πέμπτη, 22 Αυγούστου 2013

Jakarta Declaration addresses irregular movements in Asia-Pacific

JAKARTA, Indonesia, August 21 (UNHCR) – 







The UN refugee agency has hailed a pledge by 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region to address the growing challenge of irregular movements that are costing hundreds of lives at sea every year.

UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration joined ministers and senior officials from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand at the half-day meeting. 

The Jakarta Declaration was endorsed unanimously at the end of the Special Conference on the Irregular Movement of Persons organized by the Indonesia government on Tuesday.

"Complex cross-border population movements are not a new phenomenon in this region,"  

said UNHCR's Director of International Protection, Volker Turk, in his opening statement. 

"The uneven availability of protection, assistance and long-term solutions, family and community dispersal, labour needs, lack of access to legal migration opportunities, well-established travel routes, as well as smuggling networks, are all part of the complex fabric of mobility in the Asia-Pacific."

He called for a "pact of solidarity" and regional road map for action – points that were reflected in the three-page Jakarta Declaration.

"We recognized the need for common responses involving countries of origin, transit as well as destination in more focused and action-oriented efforts in addressing the issue of people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime," 

read the declaration, which stressed the importance of burden-sharing and collective action in four areas – prevention, early detection, protection and prosecution.

Prevention involves a range of actions such as mitigating the underlying factors that make people more vulnerable to irregular migration, by fostering political and socio-economic conditions and promoting better livelihood sustainability. 

Opportunities for legal channels of migration should be encouraged. 

Capacity should be built to promote timely search and rescue operations to reduce loss of life at sea.

Early detection can be done by strengthening information sharing and developing an early alert system among relevant officials.

The protection element focuses on establishing mechanisms to identify, protect and assist victims of trafficking, while ensuring that they are not punished for smuggling or trafficking offences. 

Another priority is to enhance communication and coordination to support search and rescue at sea, disembarkation, reception, processing and outcomes. 

People who are found not to be in need of protection should be encouraged to return home voluntarily.

Prosecution involves urging countries to accede to and implement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on smuggling and trafficking, and for national legislation to criminalize the latter acts. 

Mutual legal assistance should be provided in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings.

Turk welcomed the declaration for its holistic approach to the problem of irregular movements. 

It prioritizes the protection of victims, going beyond the usual focus on border management and law enforcement.

"Crafting effective responses requires a solid understanding of the broader migration context, including the reasons for movement. 

Information campaigns, restrictive border practices and punitive measures have proved not to be adequate to prevent or dissuade movements in these circumstances. 

They do not work on their own," 

said the UNHCR official.

 "Worse, in the absence of a refugee protection and migration framework, deterrence measures can raise the stakes and therefore render the market for smugglers and traffickers more risky, but also more profitable."

Noting that unresolved refugee situations often result in irregular movements further afield, he appealed to host countries to stabilize the population where they are by improving their conditions of stay while working out solutions.

"Temporary stay or other arrangements that provide legal access to the labour market are one potential avenue to achieve this objective," 

said Turk.  

"Putting in place similar reception and stay arrangements across countries will contribute to minimize onward movements while also ensuring that beneficiaries are able to contribute in full to their host communities during their stay."

He cited this as an example of "in-country opportunities" in refugee-receiving countries, while stressing the need for refugee-producing countries to address the root causes of displacement. 

He also urged third countries to expand resettlement opportunities in a renewed push for solutions.

It was proposed that a Group of Eminent Persons from the region could be set up to move these ideas and initiatives forward.

By Vivian Tan in Jakarta

UN agencies mount swift response as Syrian refugees pour into Iraq's Kurdistan region

20 August 2013 – 

About 30,000 Syrians have streamed into Iraq’s Kurdistan region since last week and thousands more are waiting to enter the country, the United Nations refugee agency said today, urging all neighbouring countries to keep their borders open to those fleeing the war in Syria.

“With several tens of thousands of people having crossed since last week, this new exodus from Syria is among the largest we have so far seen during the conflict, which is now into its third year,”
spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Dan McNorton told reporters in Geneva.

“As of this morning, a further 2,000-3,000 people were reported waiting close to the Syrian side of the border, and expected to cross today.”

Nearly 2 million Syrians have fled their war-torn country and registered as refugees or applied for registration, with two-thirds of these having arrived this year. 

According to the United Nations, there are now more than 
684,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 
516,000 in Jordan, 
434,000 in Turkey, 
155,000 in Iraq, and 
107,000 in Egypt.

The new influx began last Thursday when Kurdistan authorities suddenly opened access to the temporary Peshkhabour pontoon bridge north of Sahela, allowing several hundred people camped in the area since earlier last week to enter Iraq. 
By the following morning, thousands had swarmed across the swaying bridge over the Tigris.

On Monday, more than 4,800 people entered through this access point. Many came from Malikiyye city in the Syrian governorate of Al-Hasakah and told UNHCR they had fled an aerial bombardment that morning. 
Those who arrived in the next few days were from further west, including Efrin, Aleppo, Al Hasakah and Al Qamishly.

“As well as people who told us they were fleeing recent bombings, others say they were escaping fighting and tension amongst various factions on the ground,” 
Mr. McNorton said. 
“Also cited was the collapse of the economy due to war and the resulting difficulties in caring for their families.”

The vast majority of those crossing are children, women and elderly persons with many having camped in tents by the river for the past few days waiting for the crossing point to open.

In response, UNHCR and partners have erected shelters to provide shade, and water and food distributions have been set up at crossing points.

In Erbil Governorate, farther east, UNHCR has established a transit site at Kawergost with over 1,000 tents. 
The transit site is now sheltering some 9,000 Syrians. 
UNHCR has also dispatched more than 90 trucks with aid from Erbil. 
Relief items distributed include tents, plastic tarpaulins, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen sets, hygienic supplies, water tanks, portable latrines, portable showers and electric fans.

However, the agency noted that because of the scale and speed of the influx, some people still lack tents and have to camp under tarpaulins or other makeshift shelters. 
Another temporary site is being set up to house future arrivals.

To boost rapidly depleting aid supplies in Iraq, UNHCR sent 15 tractor-trailer trucks to northern Iraq from its stockpile in Amman, Jordan. 
That shipment, expected to arrive this week, includes more than 3,100 tents, two pre-fabricated warehouses and jerry cans. Additional supplies are currently being organized, the agency said.

In the longer-term, UNHCR said it is building a camp in cooperation with its partners and the Kurdish regional government, which is expected to be ready to accommodate refugees within weeks.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has meanwhile been working with UNHCR and has also been distributing life-saving supplies, including more than 125,000 litres of bottled water at Peshkhabour since Thursday, and 4 tankers of safe water to cover additional needs.

“Our staff at the Peshkhabour crossing point in northern Iraq say that many of the new arrivals are exhausted and in urgent need of water and shelter as summer temperatures reach 45 degrees Celsius” 
said UNICEF’s Representative to Iraq, Marzio Babille.  
“Along with our partners, we are doing everything possible to ensure all needs of these new arrivals are immediately met.”

UNICEF and the local department of social affairs are also supporting UNHCR at the crossing point to ensure unaccompanied and separated children are identified, registered and provided with all necessary support.

UNICEF has also procured 60,000 litres of bottled water and 20,000 biscuits for children under five to be distributed among the 3,000 refugees sheltered at the Kawargosh transit site.

UNHCR has urged countries in the region and elsewhere to keep borders open and to receive all Syrians who seek protection amid the fighting that has so far claimed over 100,000 lives since it began in March 2011.

UN News Service