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UAE calls for protection of refugees, addressing climate change to prevent displacement

UAE calls for protection of refugees, addressing climate change to prevent displacement
2 Nov 2023 09:24

NEW YORK CITY (ALETIHAD) - Ghasaq Shaheen, Political Coordinator, delivered the UAE statement at the United Nations (UN) Security Council Briefing by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), highlighting the UAE’s support of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the world and urging adequate living conditions for them.

Shaheen started her address by discussing the increasing number of displaced around the world who lack protection and basic services and urging the international community to make collective efforts to “support displaced persons, internally displaced persons, and refugees alike”.

“We must ensure that all internally displaced people and refugees have access to basic services, including health care, food, and safe drinking water. We must also take into consideration the needs of women and children, who are disproportionately impacted by conflict,” Shaheen said.

Continuing her address, she said: “This issue is one of the UAE’s foreign policy priorities, and we are committed to delivering humanitarian aid to refugees and internally displaced people around the world. Our efforts to alleviate the suffering of refugees and internally displaced people include facilitating and establishing humanitarian air bridges.

"The UAE sent extensive food and medical supplies immediately after the outbreak of crises in Ukraine, Sudan, and Palestine, and following the earthquakes and floods that occurred in Syria, Turkey, Libya, Afghanistan, and Pakistan this year.”

She discussed the “catastrophic conditions” of over two million people in the Gaza Strip, who have been subject to continuous Israeli bombings for three weeks, reminding that, even before the last war, which has displaced more than 60% of civilians, two-thirds of Gaza’s population were refugees already living in difficult conditions.

“As you are all aware, the situation has deteriorated dramatically amidst Israel’s imposition of a siege on October 9. The siege is cutting off electricity and water and preventing the entry of food, fuel, and medical supplies into Gaza, except for a handful of shipments, which represent less than 4% of the volume of commodities that entered before the war began,” Shaheen underlined, stressing the need to ensure safe and sustainable humanitarian aid access throughout Gaza.

She urged the protection of refugees from all forms of violence, including exploitation and sexual and gender-based violence, through preventive programmes and by providing safe spaces for them. “This should be done while exploring ways to allow refugees to return to their homelands in a safe, voluntary, and dignified manner when favourable conditions exist,” Shaheen added.

The Political Coordinator pointed out the Rohingya refugees’ crisis, calling it a “protracted and painful humanitarian situation” and noting that it does not receive sufficient attention from the international community.

“Therefore, we call for the intensification of international diplomatic efforts to resolve the Rohingya crisis, address the deteriorating humanitarian conditions the Rohingya face, and create the appropriate conditions for their voluntary, safe, sustainable, and dignified return to a stable homeland,” she said.

Continuing her address, she pointed to the urgent need to stop the war and protect civilians from the ongoing Israeli bombardment.

“This includes a strike on a refugee camp in Jabalia today, which, according to initial reports, led to the killing and injury of hundreds of people. Israel has bombed 42% of UNRWA’s facilities. These facilities are currently hosting more than 670,000 displaced people. Bombardment has also hit other civilian objects protected under international humanitarian law. Now, more than 8,000 people have been killed, and 70% of them are women and children,” Shaheen stressed, expressing the UAE’s rejection of attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians and calling on Israel to cancel its orders regarding the evacuation of more than a million people from northern to southern Gaza.

Shaheen expressed the need to intensify international efforts to address climate change, which has caused the displacement of many people, noting that the number will reach over one billion by 2050. She called for the adoption of effective strategies for dealing with climate change.

“We look forward to continuing and furthering these discussions during COP28, which the UAE will host next month,” she added. “The UAE will continue to work closely with international partners, including the UNHCR, to support refugees and IDPs around the world and ensure adequate living conditions for them,” Shaheen said, concluding her address.

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