Obama to host high-level refugee summit amid demands for investment program | News | DW | 22.12.2015
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Obama to host high-level refugee summit amid demands for investment program

US President Barack Obama is due to hold a refugee summit in 2016. The announcement follows calls from the United Nations (UN) refugee high commissioner to invest in Syria's neighboring countries.

US Ambassador Samantha Power announced late Monday that the summit will be held at the UN General Assembly in September, attended by government leaders from around the world.

Power told reporters that "this year has shown with painful clarity that our existing systems, approaches and funding are inadequate" to address the global refugee crisis.

She added that the summit is part of efforts by the US and its partners to "secure new commitments" sustained support for UN humanitarian appeals.

UN calls for international help

The announcement from the US came as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, urged Europe and the US to form an investment program to help Syria's neighboring countries.

Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres has urged the US and Europe to help Syria's neighbors

"We need a 'new deal' from the international community," Guterres said, referring to the huge investment program that the US implemented in response to the economic crisis in the 1930s.

"Without education for the children, access to the jobs market and protection from poverty, ever more Syrians will have no choice when they make their way to Europe," Guterres warned.

"Massive investment in Lebanon, in Jordan and Turkey is essential in order to help the governments and to save refugees from misery," the refugee commissioner added.

According to a study by the UN and the world bank, nine out of 10 Syrians in Jordan Lebanon live under the poverty line and 50 percent of children don't go to school.

'Islamic State allies'

In a swipe at various US state governors and European leaders, Guterres also condemned those who reject Syrian refugees. His comments followed a proposal by US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump last week to ban foreign Muslims entering the US.

"Those that reject Syrian refugees, and especially if they are Muslim, are the best allies of the propaganda and the recruitment of extremist groups," Guterres said.

Europe is currently experiencing its biggest wave of mass migration since the Second World War, with a large majority of those refugees fleeing Syria and Afghanistan.

According to UN figures, some 60 million people have been forced to flee their home country in recent years. A report published last week showed that at least 5 million people were newly displaced in the first six months of 2015, with 4.2 million of them remaining inside their country and 839,000 crossing national frontiers. The statistics equate to 4,600 people becoming refugees every single day, the report said.

ksb/jil (AP, AFP, dpa)

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