British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to call for a new approach to tackling the global “unmanaged migration” crisis when she appears at her first UN General Assembly in New York on Monday.
Acknowledging the need for humanitarian assistance for those who are genuinely displaced by conflict, Ms. May will call for more to be done to tackle the root causes. She will also argue that governments must differentiate between genuine refugees and economic migrants in order to prevent a loss of goodwill towards refugees among the public.
Ms. May is set to propose three policies: ensuring genuine refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach in a bid to stop their exploitation by smuggling gangs; a clearer distinction drawn between refugees and economic migrants; and upholding the right of all countries to control their borders, along with a responsibility to stop illegal migration flows.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Prime Minister said: “Across the world today, we are seeing unprecedented levels of population movement and we need to work together to find a better response, which focuses our humanitarian efforts on those refugees in desperate need of protection and maintains public confidence in the economic benefits of legal and controlled migration.
“We cannot simply focus on treating the symptoms of this crisis, we need to address its root causes too. While we must continue our efforts to end conflict, stop persecution and the abuse of human rights, I believe we also need a new, more effective global approach to manage migration.
“This should be based around three principles which will better serve the interests of migrants, who are exposed to danger; the interests of the countries they are leaving, travelling through or seeking to reach; and, most importantly, the interests of refugees, for whom we all share a responsibility to help.”
The migrant crisis is set to dominate the agenda at this year’s General Assembly. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will chair a high-level meeting on Monday on the mass movement of refugees and migrants, while on Tuesday U.S. President Barack Obama will host a Leaders Summit on refugees.
Last Thursday the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya warned there are 235,000 migrants in Libya “just waiting for the opportunity to go to Italy, which they will.”
Ms. May’s comments indicate that she plans to continue with her predecessor David Cameron’s plans to offer the bulk of Britain’s humanitarian assistance to refugees in-situ rather than adopting the German policy of encouraging them to travel across Europe to gain aid.
According to Downing Street, the Prime Minister will later this week announce further humanitarian support measures financed from the aid budget, and further action to provide services and create jobs in host countries.