Think horse racing is doomed

UN refugee summit threatens "pathetic failure"

New York / Geneva - The little boy fled to the barren mountains with his family. He turned to see his village on fire. "Our lives burned up," says Ban Ki-moon of his childhood in the Korean War (1950-1953). The 72-year-old UN Secretary General will remain in office until the end of the year, and during this time he will once again campaign for the more than 65 million refugees worldwide. Given the sluggish government support for victims of oppression and violence, Ban warns of a "crisis of solidarity".

Ban is hoping for the UN summit for refugees and migrants on Monday in New York, where dozens of heads of state and government are expected. One day later, US President Barack Obama invited to another conference at the UN on the fate of the displaced. Both meetings aim to mobilize concrete help for refugees.

But the events threaten to degenerate into wordy rendezvous with no effect. "We already know that the summit is doomed to fail, and the Obama meeting is unlikely to make matters any better," said Salil Shetty, general secretary of Amnesty International.

The pessimism seems to be justified, and in May Ban presented the main features of a global pact. All UN member countries should resettle at least ten percent of all refugees per year - for a life free from violence and misery.

Resettlement plan canceled

The UN Secretary General wanted to accommodate states like Jordan and Turkey, which host a large proportion of the refugees. However, in the summer a majority of the member states trimmed the ban proposal. All that remained was toothless formulations and the most important demand for refugee resettlement was completely deleted. The most influential countries such as the USA, Russia, China, India and the EU states had rarely united against the ten percent rule.

The torn plan is now to be passed as a "New York Declaration" at the UN summit. The UN special advisor for the summit, Karen AbuZayd, assures that she is "very satisfied" with the text. However, external observers see it differently. There are "serious doubts" as to whether the conference will find the necessary answers to the refugee crisis, said Akshaya Kumar of Human Rights Watch. Amnesty Secretary General Shetty put it more sharply: "The summit was sabotaged by states out of self-interest."

Role of obama

Will US President Obama at his summit be able to get the leaders of states new pledges to relocate refugees or get money for humanitarian aid? According to the US government, the meeting will be attended by those countries that have already made commitments for refugee aid this year. Germany is one of the other organizers of the conference. But diplomats are dampening expectations that Obama will soon move out of the White House. "The heads of state can promise a lot now, but Obama can no longer admonish them as US president to keep them," explains a diplomat. In any case, many politicians care little about their commitments in refugee policy.

In September 2015, for example, the EU decided to redistribute 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece to the rest of the Union. A year later, just under 4,800 asylum seekers were brought across the Greek and Italian borders. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) criticized the result as "woefully inadequate".

USA increase by 30 percent

And Obama himself has not been particularly generous so far. Since August 2015, the US has only accepted around 10,000 refugees from the civil war country of Syria. Now the White House has announced that it will increase the entire US admission quota for refugees by a good 30 percent to 110,000 places in the next year. But for comparison: Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the small Lebanon has opened its doors to more than 1.1 million people from the neighboring country. (Jan Dirk Herbermann, September 17, 2016)