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UN welcomes Southeast Asia region's proposals to address plight of refugees and migrants at sea

UN welcomes Southeast Asia region's proposals to address plight of refugees and migrants at sea

India Blooms News Service | | 30 May 2015, 02:34 pm
New York, May 30 (IBNS): The United Nations refugee agency Friday welcomed the positive outcomes of a regional meeting in Thailand to resolve the advancing solutions to refugees and migrants stranded in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

"Saving lives must be the number one priority," Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said today in Bangkok during a special meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean organized by Thailand.

The meeting concluded with a 10-point action plan which focuses, among others, on search and rescue, safe disembarkation, anti-trafficking, arrival reception and root causes, while stressing the need of collective efforts among related countries.

“Yet, there is an urgent need to reach a common understanding about more effective and predictable disembarkation options and proper reception arrangements in the region,” said Mr. Türk.

He also hailed the related States' commitment to ensure UNHCR's access to the areas. "These proposals are a good beginning that will require robust implementation," he said.

So far, UNHCR and partners have helped identifying refugees, economic migrants, trafficking victims and arranged solutions accordingly.

Noting this growing regional issue, the UN refugee agency is willing to provide Governments with paperwork arrangements and other creative means to tackle the migration problem.

“There is no solution without addressing root causes,” underscored Mr. Türk, urging legal identification of residency in Myanmar as a mid-term goal, with granting citizenship in the long run.

The importance of protecting vulnerable people such as women and children has also been addressed in the action plan, which calls for development assistance, security protection, and respect for human rights.

Participants at the meeting agreed to explore ways to address the root causes of irregular movements and improve livelihoods in at-risk communities. Recommended actions included providing development assistance, enhancing a sense of security and belonging, and promoting full respect for human rights and adequate access to basic rights and services.

Over 88,000 people have departed on smugglers’ boats from the Bay of Bengal since 2014 and more than 1,000 are believed to have died as a result of abuse and deprivation at sea.

Photo: UNHCR/F. Ijazah

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm