WEB DESK: Pakistan has called for a “clear, resolute and unified” approach based on humanitarian principles to tackle the unprecedented refugee crisis in the Mediterranean basin, while deploring efforts to spread hate and Islamophobia after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Speaking in a General Assembly meeting devoted principally to Syrian asylum-seekers, Pakistan UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that some nations had blatantly declared they would not accept Muslim refugees, but “compassion has no religion”.
She noted that “fear is being fanned by some to accentuate discrimination, blunt humanitarianism, and spread hate and Islamophobia.”
Denial of asylum to Muslim refugees by some countries was legally, politically and morally untenable, the Pakistani envoy said in a well-reasoned speech. “The moral compass of those who refuse refugees of any faith must be questioned.”
A series of interlocking crises and conflicts raging across the Middle East and Africa had been precipitated by misguided military interventions in the internal affairs of several States in the region, Ambassador Lodhi told the 193-mmber Assembly. As history and current events attested, “foreign intervention begets more chaos and violence” breaking down established structures, destroying States and displacing people.
“The flow of humanity to European shores must be met with humanity, she said, endorsing the generosity of those States which had kept their borders and hearts open. But the crisis was beyond any single country’s capacity and States where refugees were seeking sanctuary would need to share the burden equitably.
Fixed ceilings on accepting people in need of urgent protection were unacceptable, legally and morally, the Pakistani envoy said. To stem the tide of refugees to Europe, urgent aid was needed to care for the millions crowded in countries neighbouring the conflict. That also applied to the 3 million Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan, because 20 per cent of refugees arriving in Europe were Afghans. Political solutions had to be promoted to halt conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Referring to the three million (registered and unregistered) Afghan refugees who still lived in Pakistan, she said that unfortunately, international assistance to these refugees and the response to UN appeals for resources to sustain them has been partial and ungenerous.
In conclusion, she appealed to the world community to “join our strengths and combine our energies” to overcome this humanitarian catastrophe. She said, “When history judges us collectively, let us make sure that we do not fail for lack of humanity”.