UN pact on refugees adopted

A week after the controversial UN Migration Pact was signed in Morocco, the Refugee Pact of the People’s Organization was voted on Monday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Belgium voted for that pact.

The pact, ‘global pact on refugees’, has come about in parallel with the much-discussed UN Migration Pact. But contrary to the migration pact, the refugee pact has passed silently. 181 of the 193 member states voted for the document, including our country. Only the US and Hungary voted against, the remaining countries stayed away.

The purpose of the pact is to better support the large reception countries. The pact should provide refugees, among other things, with better access to schools, work and health care.

How is it that this pact causes less stigma? Like the Migration Pact, it is not binding, but the scope is also more limited. It is not about all migrants, but only the refugees who fall under the Refugee Convention.

Within the government it can be said that the consequences of the pact for our country are not great, because it is in line with the current policy. The pact places particular emphasis on supporting host countries of large groups of refugees, such as providing humanitarian and development assistance, and seeking sustainable solutions, such as voluntary return and resettlement.

The refugee pact requires that countries, apart from resettlement, work on ‘complementary routes’ for refugees, such as humanitarian visas or the possibility for refugees to study or work in third countries (with a student visa or scholarship). The pact also asks for facilitating family reunification.

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