News in Brief 19 February 2018

19 February 2018

Latin America and Caribbean “pioneers” in asylum rights: UN refugee chief

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has praised Latin American and Caribbean countries as “pioneers” in supporting refugees and asylum seekers.

Filippo Grandi was speaking on Monday to representatives from nearly 40 countries in the region meeting in Brasília.

They have gathered in the Brazilian capital for two days of consultations that will contribute to the adoption of a Global Compact on Refugees scheduled for later this year.

The UN refugee chief said how countries assist the millions of people worldwide who are on the move “is one of the biggest tests of our modern system of international cooperation”.

Overall, conflict and violence have pushed more than 65 million people out of their homes.

This figure includes some 24 million refugees.

Mr. Grandi praised the region for implementing policies that support them:

“There are more success stories of refugee inclusion and local integration in this region than anywhere else in the world. I have seen it myself in my visits in the past two years. Many countries in the Americas are showing how refugees can be supported through alliances involving local municipalities, the private sector and refugees themselves. You have been pioneers in granting asylum seekers the right to work and providing access to national, health, education and housing programmes and other services. May I suggest as a concrete contribution from your continent to the Global Compact on Refugees that you consider institutionalizing practices for the systematic inclusion of all refugees in national social programmes within the next five years.”

Tonga state of emergency after powerful cyclone: OCHA

A one-month state of emergency has been declared in the Pacific Island nation of Tonga following the passage of Cyclone Gita last week, according to information from the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA.

The category 4 storm hit the country last Monday, resulting in widespread damage including in the capital, Nuku’alofa.

OCHA reported that 4,500 people remain in 108 evacuation centres while more than 1,550 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Meanwhile, non-governmental organizations and the Red Cross are supporting the Government and its partners with responding to immediate needs, including those related to health, shelter and water and sanitation.

The state of emergency will be in place until 12 March.

UN labour chief urges fair treatment for migrant workers

Fair treatment for migrant workers is critical to preserving the social fabric of societies and to sustainable development.

That’s the message from the head of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for the World Day of Social Justice, observed on Tuesday, 20 February, which this year focuses on the status of migrant workers.

Social justice aims to promote national and global economic systems based on principles such as justice, equity, accountability and inclusion.

The UN has described it as “an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations”.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder noted that while most migration today is linked to the search for decent work, many migrant workers end up trapped in jobs with low pay and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.

He said: “If labour migration is well governed, fair and effective, it can deliver benefits and opportunities for migrant workers, their families and their host communities.”

For example, it can balance labour supply and demand, help develop and transfer skills at all skill levels, and foster innovation, among other benefits.

Audio Credit:
Dianne Penn, United Nations
Audio Duration:


♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.