U.N. chief warns against cuts in development aid to finance response to refugee crisis

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Illegal refugees whose boat sank being rescued near the Italian coast. File photo

GENEVA – Reducing development assistance to finance the cost of refugee flows is counter-productive, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today, declaring that “helping people in need should not be a zero-sum game.”

“As we strive to meet the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Secretary-General encourages all governments to enhance international development assistance,” he said in a statement issued through his spokesperson.

The statement comes ahead of this weekend’s summit of major economies of the world at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, where the UN chief will attend working sessions with the world leaders gathered, including on development.

“With the world facing the largest crisis of forced displacement since the Second World War, the Secretary-General calls on the international community to meet this immense challenge without lessening its commitment to vitally needed official development assistance,” the statement said.

Mr. Ban’s statement underscored the importance of fully funding both efforts to care for refugees and asylum-seekers as well as longer-term development initiatives.

“Resources for one area should not come at the expense of another,” the statement said. “Redirecting critical funding away from development aid at this pivotal time could perpetuate challenges that the global community has committed to address.”

Furthermore, he said, “Reducing development assistance to finance the cost of refugee flows is counter-productive and will cause a vicious circle detrimental to health, education and opportunities for a better life at home for millions of vulnerable people in every corner of the world.”

“Helping people in need should not be a zero-sum game,” he said.

Earlier this week, the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, had appealed to humanitarian and development stakeholders that developmental responses which aim to build the resilience of people and communities are needed alongside humanitarian responses in responding to crises in Syria and elsewhere like Yemen and Libya.

Agencies

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