Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Wed, Sep 21st, 2016

Middle East Discussion Hits New York

The Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, participated at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, together with Isabella Löven, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had the honour to listen to Margot Wallström’s speech on the matter at the UN headquarters in New York. This is what she had to say:

Margot Wallström. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Margot Wallström. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

The need for solidarity with the world’s refugees and with nations that receive them is more evident than ever. More countries have to take a greater share. These are global issues that require joint global efforts.

I would like to make 6 main points:

We must address the root causes of conflict and strife, invest more in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction, and do more to stop the ongoing conflicts that are behind our record-high humanitarian needs. I recall in this regard that all states have the responsibility to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights for all. Respect for human rights and international humanitarian law are key factors for peace and stability.

When discussing this situation, we cannot ignore the over 5 million Palestinians who have been refugees for two thirds of a century. Nor can we ignore UNRWA’s crucial contribution to supporting these refugees and the positive effects of its work for stability in the region. For this I want to thank UNRWA. Sweden is one of the largest donors to UNRWA. The Government has just proposed to Parliament an additional contribution of just over USD 8 million for 2016.

Sweden is one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors, facilitates resettlement of people in need of protection, and supports efforts to integrate refugees in host societies – both in partner countries and at home. Sweden has a strong and long-standing commitment to resettlement, and our resettlement quota is one of the highest in Europe. Sweden has also been active within the EU to encourage more Member States to contribute to resettlement. Sweden will continue to make participation in resettlement activities a high priority also on the international agenda. Sweden promotes refugees’ access to education and employment in host countries, as we ourselves make these sectors accessible to refugees and migrants in Sweden.

Since displacement puts women’s and girls’ health and safety at risk, we also provide valuable insights from our unique feminist foreign policy. We are honoured to be leading the initiative ‘Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies’ this year, with the aim of building a global coalition to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in emergencies. We urge all actors in humanitarian emergencies to integrate a gender perspective in their work and combat gender-based violence.

Development actors must engage earlier and more robustly in humanitarian contexts and fragile states. Humanitarian and development actors must increasingly share a situational understanding, agree on common mid- to long-term goals, and work towards those common goals, according to their separate mandates. The neutral and unpolitical nature of humanitarian action must be safeguarded.

Sweden has adopted a regional development cooperation strategy (USD 200 million) to strengthen the resilience of the Syrian population, refugees, and vulnerable groups in Syria’s neighbouring countries. The strategy implements a lot of the thinking behind a closer humanitarian-development nexus.

More than 80 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the refugee hosting countries.

Thank you.”

Källa: Regeringskansliet/FN-New York.

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