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“Accepting refugees is a win for everyone”

Europe

“Accepting refugees is a win for everyone”

Gordon Brown talks to Ban Ki-moon.

What is your vision of global citizenship?

Many of the challenges we face are clearly ones that the governments and peoples of the world need to deal with collectively: violent extremism, climate change and the spread of infectious diseases. No one country, no matter how powerful or resourceful, can solve these problems.

Do UN member states need to strengthen the protections offered to refugees?

Yes. Refugees have a right to asylum – not bias and barbed wire. Much more needs to be done to show our solidarity, not just through relief, but through resettlement in third countries, through educational and working visas, and in other ways. I have just issued a report in preparation for the [UN’s] September meeting, in which I call for a global agreement on resettling 10 per cent of refugees annually. I hope the United Kingdom will support this plan.

When managed properly, accepting refugees is a win for everyone. Refugees are famously devoted to education and self-reliance. They bring new skills and dynamism to workforces that in some parts of the world are ageing rapidly.

What can be done to strengthen the protections offered to children in armed conflict or those at risk from traffickers, forced labour and forced marriage?

Grave violations against children are an affront to our common humanity around the world, including the Central African Republic, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria. Many thousands of children have been killed, maimed, forcibly recruited, tortured and sexually abused. In recent years, groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army and Boko Haram have abducted children en masse; they know this is an effective way to destroy communities and weaken their resilience.

Tragically, some United Nations personnel have been implicated in the abuse and exploitation of the children they were sent to protect. This outrageous behaviour further victimises vulnerable children. We are working hard to support the children who have been affected, to find and punish the perpetrators, and to make sure that this can never happen again.

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