MJ Akbar to address high-level UNGA summit for refugees, migrants

New Delhi : Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar will attend several meetings at the UN, including a high-level summit on refugees and migrants aimed at addressing the unprecedented crisis.

Akbar will attend various summits being organised at the high-level segment of the 71st UN General Assembly that opens today. He will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts of different nations on the sidelines of the session. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will arrive here on September 24 to address the General Debate on September 26.

Akbar, who arrived here from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Venezuela, will address the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which will kick off the high-level week. The India-US-Afghanistan trilateral will also be convened in New York later this week. The summit is the first time that the General Assembly has called for a meeting at the Heads of State and Government level on the topic and “it is a historic opportunity to come up with a blueprint for a better international response”, the world body said.

World leaders are expected to adopt a political declaration as an outcome document at the summit, during which the UN will see a new addition to its family a dedicated migration agency. Leaders of the UN and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will sign an agreement to officially make IOM a related agency of the UN system.

Akbar is also expected to attend other high-level summits and meetings during the week. On September 21, the Assembly will hold a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance, which has become one of the biggest threats to global health and endangers other major priorities, such as human development. On the same day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will make a pitch for an early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change by convening a special event at which countries can deposit their ratification instruments with him.

On September 22, there will be a high-level segment of the General Assembly to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development. A total of 195 leaders including 86 Heads of State, a Crown Prince, five vice presidents and 51 ministers will address the General Debate. About 1,100 requests for bilaterals have been put through, apart from the ones with Ban and 545 meetings have been requested, which include special side events and regularly scheduled meetings. Ban, who will have 124 bilaterals, will participate in 62 events.

With Ban’s second five-year term expiring on December 31, this will be his last high-level week as the UN chief. The war in Syria will also take centerstage during the high level week with world leaders taking stock of the cessation of hostilities in the troubled country.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Syria is one of the most complex and dynamic humanitarian crises in the world today. Since March 2011, more than a quarter of a million Syrians have been killed and over one million have been injured.

Another 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to leave the country, and 6.5 million are internally displaced, making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally.