Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a conference on 'Forced Displacement: A Global Challenge', at the World Bank in Washington DC, on 15 April 2016. Photo: Grant Ellis / World Bank

15 April 2016 (UN) – As the world faces the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reiterated a call to leaders across Europe and throughout the world to show greater solidarity as they strive to combat the deeper roots of conflict and continue to work towards securing human rights for all.

Arriving in Washington, D.C., this morning to attend the annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, the UN chief participated in an event on the development challenges of forced displacement.

Recalling his visit in March with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to the Middle East region, including Jordan and Lebanon, Mr. Ban said they heard the stories of thousands of refugees, and he was “deeply moved, especially by the dreams and resolve of the young people.”

“Above all, this is not just a crisis of numbers – it is also a crisis of solidarity,” Mr. Ban said.

The Secretary-General also underscored that today’s internal displacement and refugee crises are signs of deeper challenges that must be resolved – from Syria to Afghanistan to South Sudan.

To that end, he will be convening the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next month to provide a platform “to put a focus on root causes and prevention, to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development assistance, and to improve our global response to forced displacement.”

The World Humanitarian Summit will fuel “much-needed momentum” for the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, which is scheduled in the UN General Assembly for 19 September.

Mr. Ban also stressed that world leaders must recognize that today’s internal displacement and refugee crises are signs of deeper challenges, and show greater solidarity not just through relief, but through resettlement and other legal pathways.

“Refugees have a right to asylum – not bias and barbed wire,” he said.

Noting that he, too, was once a displaced person, Mr. Ban also emphasized that refugees bring new skills and dynamism into aging workforces, and are “famously devoted” to education and self-reliance.

“When managed properly, accepting refugees is a win for everyone,” he said. “Demonizing them is not only morally wrong, it is factually wrong,” he added.

The Secretary-General also spoke at the Inaugural Assembly Meeting of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which brings together multilateral organizations, governments and the private sector.

He emphasized that it is essential for multilateral financial institutions and the private sector to provide the policy instruments and resources needed to support the transformation to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy.

“Markets must play a central role in managing climate risks,” the UN chief said. “We must put a price on pollution, and provide incentives to accelerate a low carbon pathway.”

Market prices, market indices and investment portfolios can no longer continue to ignore the growing cost of unsustainable production and consumption behaviours on the health of our planet, he said.

Hailing the Inaugural Assembly as an “important step” in consolidating the gains made in the Paris Agreement, the Secretary-General said he was “very encouraged” to see that businesses view carbon pricing as an efficient, cost-effective means of reducing emissions.

“Momentum is building. However, we must ensure the provision of timely and meaningful assistance to developing and vulnerable countries for their mitigation efforts. Promises made must be kept,” Mr. Ban said.

“Greater international cooperation is vital for building a low-carbon, climate resilient world,” he added.

‘Refugees have a right to asylum – not bias and barbed wire,’ Ban says in Washington


Washington, DC, 15 April 2016 (UN) – Thank you.  I am extremely pleased to be among such a distinguished group and to be focussing on a topic that is tied to so many challenges in our world today.

We are facing the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time.

Above all, this is not just a crisis of numbers – it is also a crisis of solidarity.

Last month, President Kim and I visited the Middle East region, including Jordan and Lebanon.  We saw thousands of refugees.  We heard their stories.  I was deeply moved especially by the dreams and resolve of the young people.

Half the world’s refugees are children.

I myself was once an internally displaced person.  As a child in war-torn Korea, I saw my village destroyed.  My family and others were forced to flee our homes.

We survived on food and medicine from UNICEF.  We studied with textbooks provided by UNESCO.  And of course, the troops of many nations secured our freedom while fighting under the UN flag.

The United Nations was our lifeline and beacon of hope.  Today, I am determined that the United Nations and the international community does everything in its power to help refugees everywhere.

I would make three quick points. 

First, leaders across Europe, and throughout the world, must show greater solidarity not just through relief, but through resettlement and other legal pathways. Refugees have a right to asylum– not bias and barbed wire.

When managed properly, accepting refugees is a win for everyone.  Refugees are famously devoted to education and self-reliance.  They bring new skills and dynamism into aging workforces.

Demonizing them is not only morally wrong, it is factually wrong. 

Second, we must recognize that today’s internal displacement and refugee crises are signs of deeper challenges.

Too many countries - and even whole regions- are trapped in a cycle of conflict, violence, and poverty.    From Syria to Afghanistan to South Sudan, we need to resolve the wars that force people to flee.

Third, that means addressing the deeper roots of conflict.  Insecurity.  Poor governance.  Political exclusion.  Social and economic inequity. 

Next month, I am convening the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.  This will provide a platform to put a focus on root causes and prevention, to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development assistance, and to improve our global response to forced displacement.

That will fuel much needed momentum for the UN Summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants on September 19. 

I strongly welcome the discussions here on forced displacement and development, including the document to be tabled at the Development Committee of the World Bank Group.  

All of these are welcome signals. 

We must respond to a monumental crisis with monumental solidarity.

Secretary-General's remarks on Forced Displacement: A Global Challenge [as prepared for delivery]

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