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A Call for Better Care of Refugees

A Syrian refugee from Aleppo sits with his children in a makeshift tent in a Syrian refugee camp in the town of Kab Elias in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, June 20, 2016.

“The world knows what it must do to respond effectively to the massive challenge that we face."

The United Nations estimates that there are currently more than 65 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Some 21 million of them have fled across international borders, while the rest are displaced within their own country, but cannot return home. It is no exaggeration to say that this “has become a global humanitarian crisis; in some places, [a] catastrophe,” as Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech in New York on September 19 at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants:

“It is in the world’s singular interests, best interests – and it is right – to ensure that people who desperately need a new home – whether in or beyond the boundaries of their own country – can actually find a place to live in safety, with food, medicine, school, and a time to plan for what comes next.

“The task of providing such a refuge falls most heavily on those states that are directly embroiled in strife, their neighbors, and on the nations along nearby exit corridors. But the responsibility to assist is shared by all. So we have to do our part to try to end wars, to oppose violent extremism, to respect human rights, and to support policies that humanely and effectively manage the flow of people who are on the move.”

The UN General Assembly approved the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, a non-binding document meant to standardize the response to refugee situations, to provide better education prospects for children, and to improve working opportunities for refugees.

“The world knows what it must do to respond effectively to the massive challenge that we face,” said Secretary of State Kerry.

Noting that the United States is proud to be the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance and refugee relief, he said that “the gap between the funds that we have and the funds that we need remains enormous.”

“We are determined to work with all of you to create more opportunities for refugees; to provide more fully for the special needs of women, children, and people in danger of persecution; and to furnish additional help to countries that are on the front lines of humanitarian crises. To these ends, and more, we ask your support and we pledge our own continued best efforts.”