‘Denial of asylum to Muslims legally, morally untenable’

NEW YORK – Pakistan’s permanent representative to United Nations Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi warned the world community that denial of asylum to Muslim refugees by some countries was legally, politically and morally untenable.“The moral compass of those who refuse refugees of any faith must be questioned,” he said while speaking in a debate at the UN General Assembly on the global refugee crises. She said that fear was being fanned by some to accentuate discrimination, blunt humanitarianism, and spread hate and Islamophobia.Dr Maleeha described the refugee crisis as one of the defining humanitarian and political issues of this time. She said how this will influence political and social trends for decades to come – either bridging or dividing cultures and civilizations. She said it was time to acknowledge that the interlocking crises and conflicts raging across the Middle East and Africa have been precipitated by misguided military interventions in the internal affairs of several regional states.She stressed that history and current events attest that foreign intervention begets more chaos and violence, breaking down established structures of stability, destroying states and displacing people. Addressing root causes of the flow of refugees to Europe, conditions will have to be created to enable the refugees to return to their homes in dignity and peace, she said.

She also called for political solutions to be promoted to halt the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Compromises may be difficult but they were essential, she said. She said that fixed preconditions for peace and negotiations were a recipe for continuing conflict and chaos. The rights of majorities and minorities will have to be respected, she said.Highlighting the need to urgently resolve the refugee crises, Dr Maleeha expressed the hope that the UN debate would yield recommendations for a clear, resolute and unified response to this crisis – a response that is timely, coherent and comprehensive, and, above all, based on the principles of humanitarianism, human rights and national and global responsibility.Calling for refugees to be treated with compassion, she said that it was essential that the flow of humanity to European shores must be met with humanity. And compassion has no religion, she reminded. She criticised those countries, which were fixing ceilings on accepting people who were in need of urgent protection, calling this unacceptable, legally and morally.

She said that every refugee and asylum seeker was entitled to protection and humane treatment. “There is no room for discrimination on  caste, colour or creed, or any other consideration in international law,” she added. She underscored the need for massive and urgent assistance to care for the millions of refugees who were crowded in neighbouring countries – in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere to stem the tide of the refugees to Europe.Referring to the three million (registered and unregistered) Afghan refugees who still lived in Pakistan, she said that international assistance to these refugees and the response to UN appeals for resources to sustain them has been partial and ungenerous. She concluded by appealing to the world community to join strengths and combine energies to overcome this humanitarian catastrophe.


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