Press release

Seychelles Permanent Representative to UN addresses high level meeting on Refugees and Migrants in New York

September 20, 2016

The 71st United General Assembly has commenced this week in New York, United States of America which has been preceded by a high level meeting on addressing the large movements of Refugees and migrants, at the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants. Speaking at the event a number of high level United Nations and Heads of State and Government stressed for collective action to address the global crisis.

The Seychelles delegation was headed by Seychelles’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations Organisation, Ambassador Marie-Louise Potter who attended the historic high level meeting on refugees and migrants.

The meeting is the first of its kind at the United Nations, the meeting was convened to address that unprecedented largest movement of people since the Second World War. It is estimated by the U.N. High Commission for Refugee that about 65.3 million people have been displaced at the end of 2015, with a 5 million annual increase. This consists of approximately 21.3 million refugees, 3.2 million asylum seekers, and 40.8 million migrants.

At this meeting the UN member states adopted at the  landmark New York Declaration, which contains bold commitments on how states should address the current issues of refugees and migrants, as well as a change to their policies on how to address  and mitigate the crises afflicting both refugees and migrants in the future.

The New York Declaration seeks to standardise international responses to the refugee crises or those that are in current displacement. It also encourages safe, orderly and regulated resettlement.

Some of the pertinent outcomes of the document call for; states to protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, integration of migrants and refugees within their host societies, by promoting their full integration and participation, and provide refugees with dignified work prospects.

In addition, the Declaration also seeks to ensure  that all children of refugee and migrant receive education; that vulnerable groups  are protected from violence,  sexual and other otherwise and that countries who receive large migrant population are duly supported.   

The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon and William Lacy Swing, the Director-General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), signed the new agreement by which IOM officially becomes an affiliated organisation of the United Nations system, thus strengthening the comprehensive global approach to migration.

The Declaration is however, non-binding and its success is dependent on its implementation at state level.

Ambassador Potter also addressed the plenary n, and made a statement on behalf of Mr. Joel Morgan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport of Seychelles. In her statement Ambassador Potter highlighted three key areas of pertinence.

Firstly, she emphasised the need for the “international community to tackle the causes for unleashing large, irregular displacement of migrants which are armed conflicts, natural disasters and the absence of an inclusive leadership”. Furthermore she stressed, on the importance of strengthening  “good governance, democracy and inclusive development models” as paramount factors in reducing the risks of conflict outbreak which causes these displacements.

“That is why it is important that countries needs to find a just and lasting solution to the problem of mass, irregular movement of people and only a rights-based approach can guarantee this,” said Ambassador Potter. This is also in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals which was adopted last year, which pledged to “leave no one behind.”  

Lastly, Seychelles as a melting pot of culture, colours and races, was showcased as it is a land birthed of migrants, nurtured over the centuries through the arrival of people from all ends of the world, aiding in the growth of our vibrant country. Ambassador Potter stressed that this is undoubtedly the strength of our country, since we are a proud nation of diversity, and that it is an example that the world can surely learn from.