UN countries agree on pact to manage mass global migration

Migrants sit in the street of Via Cupa just outside the former Baobab migrants reception centre next to the Tiburtina train station in Rome August 8, 2016. ― AFP pic
Migrants sit in the street of Via Cupa just outside the former Baobab migrants reception centre next to the Tiburtina train station in Rome August 8, 2016. ― AFP pic

NEW YORK, July 14 — The United Nations agreed yesterday on wide-ranging ways to cope with the millions of migrants moving from country to country, overcoming “mistrust” and “difficult” issues to draw up the first-ever migration pact, officials said.

The non-binding agreement, approved by all 193 member nations except the United States that pulled out last year, aims to make migration safe and orderly amid issues of national sovereignty and international cooperation, UN officials said.

The move came after the migration crisis in Europe in 2015, which saw the biggest influx of refugees and migrants since World War Two, officials said. The crisis strained resources and triggered fear of foreigners and nationalist tensions.

Some 250 million people around the world are migrants, according to UN data, or 3.4 per cent of the global population.

“Migration is a fact. It has been here for centuries. It is here to stay for centuries more,” Miroslav Lajčák, president of the UN General Assembly, told a media briefing.

“But we have never had an instrument that helps us to govern, to manage this process. We have been in reactive mode.”

The official Global Compact For Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration addresses why people migrate, how to protect them, how to integrate them into new countries, means of returning them home and other issues.

Ambassador Jurg Lauber of Switzerland, who helped run the pact negotiations, called it a “catalog of measures” rather than a “one-size-fits-all” set of rules.

“The strength, the force of the document is its practical value,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of yesterday’s agreement.

Formal adoption is set for December in Morocco.

It was agreed by 192 member nations after the United States quit the negotiations saying it was not compatible with US sovereignty.

Hungarian media reported yesterday that Hungary’s foreign minister may propose that Budapest pull out of the pact because it could aid the flow of migrants to Europe. Reaching agreement on the pact required overcoming distrust among adversarial nations, said Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho of Mexico, who also helped run the talks. He said one objective of the pact is battling human trafficking which was “a cancer of the phenomenon on migration.”

“The issue of migration is highly political, and there is naturally distrust or mistrust between countries on this,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We needed to strengthen the trust, build trust.” — Thomson Reuters Foundation

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