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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the Security Council

2021-12-07 15:50

I thank Mr. Grandi for his briefing. Under the leadership of the High Commissioner, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has overcome numerous challenges, including armed conflicts, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and natural disasters, and has made tremendous efforts to alleviate the plight of refugees and uphold their dignity, which China appreciates. 

According to UNHCR statistics, the number of refugees and displaced persons worldwide is increasing, reaching over 82 million. The High Commissioner has just shared information with us that is worth our thorough consideration. The international community must remain committed to the spirit of humanity, actively cooperate and mobilize resources so as to provide refugees with the necessary protection, in accordance with international law. 

In order to resolve the issue of refugees, historical perspectives and national realities must be taken into account. All parties must assume their responsibilities. Developing countries host some 86 per cent of refugees worldwide. Countries that are capable and accountable must help ease the stress and burden facing developing countries. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, all countries must include refugees in their pandemic response plans and provide them with the necessary protection. In addressing the issue of refugees, double standards and politicization must be avoided. The international refugee-protection mechanism must not be abused by terrorists and criminals. 

Armed conflicts are major drivers of refugees. The Security Council must focus on its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security and push for a political settlement to regional hotspot issues with a view to creating the conditions for the return of refugees. It is imperative to ensure humanitarian access based on respect for national sovereignty, strictly observe the United Nations guiding principles on humanitarian assistance, and refrain from using the issue of refugees for political motives. Cooperation must be seriously promoted, unilateral sanctions lifted, and excessive pressure avoided so that the countries concerned can receive tangible assistance and avoid facing additional obstacles. 

The question of Palestine has remained unresolved for over 70 years, with the lives of more than 5 million refugees torn apart and the prospect of nation-building lost for several generations. A comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine is the only way to end the suffering of Palestinian refugees. 

Ten years ago, the so-called Arab Spring led to incessant wars in Libya, Syria and other countries, spawning large populations of refugees. As of now, 6.7 million Syrian refugees are still stranded abroad. That is the bitter fruit of foreign military intervention and the imposition of democratic change. The initiators must bear the primary responsibility for supporting the reconstruction of the countries concerned and create conditions for the return of refugees. At the same time, we must also ensure that the Security Council performs its functions properly so that history does not repeat itself. 

Africa is the continent with the largest refugee population. China highly commends refugee host countries in Africa for their solidarity and resilience. Along the way, we call upon UNHCR to continue to prioritize Africa and maintain its resource mobilization and assistance efforts for Africa. 

The war in Afghanistan has displaced tens of millions of Afghans. Reconstruction is urgently needed to prevent a larger wave of refugees. Cash liquidity is crucial to Afghan economic reconstruction. We call on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to resume, as soon as possible, the normal use of the account of the Afghan Government, disperse funds and provide economic assistance to Afghanistan with a view to alleviating the suffering of its people. 

For people who, fleeing turbulence, crossed into Bangladesh from Rakhine state, Myanmar, we support UNHCR and other international relief agencies in their humanitarian efforts and commend the efforts of the Government of Bangladesh to improve their situation. We hope that Bangladesh and Myanmar will conduct bilateral consultations in a constructive political atmosphere with a view to creating conditions for the gradual repatriation of Rohingyas. 

With regard to the refugee problem along the border of some eastern European countries, there is a need for dialogue and cooperation to seek a proper solution. No matter what, the rights and dignity of those refugees must be fully guaranteed. We are gravely concerned about the reports that Lithuanian border police are suspected of deliberately murdering refugees and subjecting them to violence. The authorities of Lithuania must immediately conduct investigations, bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent a recurrence of such incidents.

Thank you. 

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