Ibero-American Summit

Briefing Notes, 3 November 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 3 November 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR welcomes the forthcoming meeting on migration of the Ibero-American Summit in Uruguay this weekend and calls on its 22 member states to use this opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to refugees.

Refugees account for a relatively small portion of the millions of people on the move around the world today and UNHCR has consistently underlined the difference between migrants and refugees. But while migration and asylum are distinct experiences, they are becoming increasingly linked, with many refugees travelling alongside migrants to reach a place of safety. Recognising this link is essential to ensure that migration management is consistent with human rights and refugee protection.

During the two-day summit, 19 Latin American states, as well as Spain, Portugal and Andorra, will seek to establish a collaborative framework to handle migration movements within their region. UNHCR, which will take part as an observer, is well aware of the challenges of dealing with mixed population movements, especially in countries that receive large numbers of illegal migrants. We welcome all efforts to find solutions that foster development and uphold the rights of refugees and others in need of international protection.

We also stress that the right to asylum must be an integral part of any migratory framework. We are increasingly providing practical support to help states fulfil their obligations to refugees caught up in such mixed migration movements. For example, we can provide technical expertise to help develop and put in place clear procedures to identify people in need of international protection.

Earlier this year, UNHCR issued a 10-Point Plan of Action outlining its commitment to help the international community address the issue of mixed migration in a coherent and collaborative manner