Refugee Crisis, Syria at top of global agenda in UN General Assembly’s annual meeting

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Members of the Civil Defence rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo. File photo

ARA News 

GENEVA – The Syrian conflict and the refugee crisis will be at the top of the global agenda in the upcoming United Nations meeting starting Monday, according to officials.

Leaders of 135 states are expected to attend the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting. 

“It’s no secret there’s a lot of fear out there,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters Thursday, citing the uncertainties sparked by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the threat posed by the Islamic State extremist group, and attacks in many parts of the world by IS and other terrorist groups.

But Syria, where a cease-fire agreement was reached by the United States and Russia last Monday, remains at the top of the agenda at the UN agenda.

On Saturday, the UN Security Council scheduled a closed emergency meeting at Russia’s request to discuss airstrikes by the US-led coalition that killed dozens of Syrian soldiers in Deir ez-Zor.

With the truce still fragile, no sign yet of humanitarian aid deliveries, and supporters and opponents of the Syrian government trading accusations, diplomats said there may be a meeting Tuesday of some 20 key countries on both sides who are part of the International Syria Support Group to chart the next steps, the AP reported.

Also, in one of the week’s highlights, the secretary-general has invited leaders to a first-ever UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants on Monday.

According to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, an “unprecedented” 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, an increase of more than 5 million from a year earlier and the highest number since World War II. They include 21.3 million refugees, 3.2 million asylum seekers, and 40.8 million people internally displaced within their own countries.

“‘More countries must resettle more people who have been forced from their homes,” Ban told reporters Wednesday. “And everyone, everywhere, must stand up against the animosity that so many refugees, migrants and minority communities face.”

By: Lorin Silo

Source: ARA News and agencies

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