CTAUN Conference: Refugees: the 21st Century Challenge Morning Panel 1 Issues

The Morning Panel on Issues, was moderated by Rima Salah, of the UN High Level Panel on Peace Operations, a native of Jordan and herself a refugee.

Bill Frelick, Refugee Rights Program Director, Human Rights Watch, began by saying he had revised his talk because of President Trump’s first-week actions, and the impact they will have on the United States’ long-time role as a leader for refugees. Forty percent of the budget for the High Commission for Refugees comes from the United States, and, perhaps more important, in the past the United States has shown moral leadership – leading the acceptance of the New York Declaration last September and President Obama’s calling a summit of world leaders immediately after to get concrete commitments toward ensuring the safety and rights of migrants and refugees and stabilizing the nations they come from and settle in.

The New York Declaration condemned racism, xenophobia, etc., and recognized the responsibility of all nations for refugees, with richer nations supporting the mostly poorer host countries. The United States had led the way by pledging $1 billion more to supporting solutions and accepting 100,000 more refugees This is in question now, under Mr. Trump. Walls are not a solution, he declared, to much applause.