IRISH President Michael D Higgins has urged UN members and the global banking community to consider the establishment of a refugee fund which would counter the rise in the illegal trafficking of migrants.
In a statement made today, which is World Refugee Day, President Higgins cited tragedies such as the sinking of a migrant boat in Greece last week, killing dozens of people and leaving hundreds missing, among reasons that “action” needs to be taken quickly to address the crisis.
“It is important for us all to have in our minds on World Refugee Day the incredible plight which so many of the displaced and migrants are currently placed,” the President said.
“Last week’s appalling tragedy off the coast of Greece remind us all of the horrific dangers faced by migrants and the urgency that is required in taking actions to protect the lives of so many people,” he added.
“The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has asked Member States, and indeed all those concerned, to not simply acknowledge the dark circumstances we find ourselves in, but to make practical contributions and contacts to what might be a resolution, not only in the short term, but in the medium to long term.”
Responding to Secretary General Guterres, Mr Higgins today offered a number of suggestions as a “contribution to what is now an urgent discourse that cannot be ignored any longer given the vast number of lives being lost”.
Citing recent reports which state that roughly 51,000 people have lost their lives trying to reach Europe since 1993, while more than 27,000 people have died or gone missing on the Mediterranean since 2014, Mr Higgins called on the global community to “draw from the empirical experience and the research of those who have been working and carrying out detailed research amongst migrants”.
He explained: “I am convinced that a proposal that was briefly considered at the time of the initial movement of Syrian refugees into Turkey and Germany, that a bond be created to issue sufficient funding for a transparent, accountable system that meets with the requirements of the United Nations Charter, is worthy of further consideration.”
“Given the current position with regard to floating investment funds, it is possible – in an imaginative model that brought together the IMF, the World Bank and different development banks – to create a fund that could deliver in anticipated places of migrant interest a set of structures taking account of all these empirical findings?”
He added: “It is the most coherent proposal I can think of to counter illegal trafficking, it has the advantage of being a managed, transparent system, and all of the indications are that it is possible to return the investment in such bonds within 5 years, and certainly before 10 years.”
Regarding next steps once the migrant crisis is under control, the President explained: “When the crisis abates, one is left with a set of structures in different continents which provide opportunities for retraining, adaptation to climate change, healing and for international conferences on re-adaptation, possibilities of return and anticipation, well in advance, of difficulties of entry into different cultures.”