UN must act to save refugees, says Amnesty

London : The UN Security Council is failing to maintain international peace and security in conflict zones, Amnesty International said on World Refugee Day Friday.

Amnesty urged Security Council members to act more decisively to protect civilians and prevent millions more people being driven away from their homes.

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The Security Council’s, and in some cases the UN Secretariat’s, ineffective or delayed responses to ongoing conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Iraq have allowed violence to spiral and countless communities to be devastated, it said.

“Apathy, political alliances and point-scoring must cease … when it comes to decision-making at the Security Council,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, deputy director on global issues at Amnesty International.

“While diplomats debate points of order, houses are being burned to the ground and families forced on the run. Long delays and vetoed resolutions are plaguing the supposed ‘strong arm’ of the UN.”

The delayed deployment of UN peacekeepers to the Central African Republic means thousands have already been forced to flee before troops arrive.

The repeated failure of the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and the resulting lack of accountability has contributed to the world’s largest displacement crisis.

Meanwhile, those countries that have blocked any meaningful action on Syria are contributing the least to the global refugee crisis. Russia and China resettled zero refugees in 2013.

Despite their relative economic disadvantage, developing countries are bearing the brunt of the crisis, with Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Pakistan the top five refugee hosting countries.

In 2013, at least 435,000 people sought asylum in the European Union but just 136,000 people got the status.

Australia, which has one of the lowest population densities anywhere in the world, is another offender, hiding serious human rights violations of refugees and asylum seekers at its offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

“It’s time for governments in developed countries to stop thinking in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Refugees and asylum seekers have often endured terrible ordeals. They deserve to be protected and treated with humanity and dignity,” Amnesty said.