IOM New York Office Director Ashraf El Nour Statement on agenda item 131 at the plenary meeting of the 71st Session of the GA

Published Date: 
Tuesday, April 11, 2017






7 April 2017

Plenary meeting of the General Assembly on agenda item 131 titled - Global Awareness of the Tragedies of Irregular Migrants in Mediterranean Basin, with specific emphasis on Syrian Asylum Seekers


Thank you Mr. President,

Thank you to all of you, and at the outset, let me make the following points. The first one is to say that global population displacement is record high. The share of Syria and its region is one of the largest, and the tragedies of displaced people, refugees and migrants are heart-breaking and call for urgent attention and action to alleviate their human suffering. The human cost is no longer bearable and of concern to all of us.

Secondly, the Mediterranean continues to be at the forefront of large refugee and migratory movements. In 2015, the refugees and migrants that arrived in Europe totaled more than 1 million and it became a turning point. In 2016, another 365,000 arrived there, and this year, up to the end of March, more than 29,000 have arrived in Europe. All this adds up, not only to the numbers, but more importantly, to the complexity and the impact of irregular migration in the region and elsewhere in the world.

Third, human mobility and in particular, irregular migration, is one of the most invisible movements and is difficult to quantify, and one of the most reliable indicators is the number of apprehensions at international borders. And the limitation with that methodology, it tells a lot about the numbers but not so much about the deepening vulnerabilities, especially of women and children. One fifths of those who arrived in 2015 were children, and in 2016, this number, this percentage, increased to 37%, many of them are unaccompanied minors or separated children.

On a more positive note, migration is overwhelmingly positive, and the 2030 development agenda recognizes the positive contributions of migrants towards home and host country, and that migration is a human reality of greater relevance to development. Target 10.7 in particular calls on member states to develop well-planned migration policies to facilitate safe, orderly migration, and we stand ready to work with governments to mainstream migration into their national development processes.

The 19 of September summit, last year, was a unique opportunity for member states to come together and address the conditions that create or exasperate large movements of refugees and migrants. It broke new ground for migration to be more collaborative, and as we stand now, the process already set for the development of a global compact for refugee responsibility sharing by 2018 and another one for global migration in the same year.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the two co-facilitators for their re-appointment, but also the SRSG for her appointment as the Secretary-General of the conference.

In a less positive note, let me share with you our concern that despite all the efforts by the international community, human trafficking remains a global problem affecting many parts of the world including crisis countries, where we call on the humanitarian actors to prioritize human trafficking, especially the prevention part of it, up front in the humanitarian response, and not later on. We also call on donors to consider counter human trafficking as a life saving measure eligible for emergency financing. And we call on the humanitarian and development actors to work together and address human trafficking before, during and after the crisis.

In closing Mr. President, let me renew IOM’s support to the Secretary-General’s “Together” campaign, in which we are already actively engaged and contributing. We also stand ready to work with all of you to stop all forms of discrimination against migrants and refugees and to work together to change the current toxic narrative on migration to one that is more positive and tolerant.

I thank you for your attention.