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Conference on Migration and Development

Briefing notes

Conference on Migration and Development

24 November 2006 Also available in:

Yesterday in Tripoli, at a two-day conference on migration and development organized by the European Union and the African Union, UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller, called on governments to ensure the humanitarian needs and rights of refugees and migrants are respected.

Ministers from some 60 African and European Union countries had gathered to discuss a wide range of issues, including legal and irregular migration movements, development, peace, security, human rights and refugee protection.

Stressing that UNHCR is not - and does not intend to become - a migration agency, Feller warned that unless asylum finds its proper place in the range of state responses to migration issues, there was a likelihood that the refugee issue would become a complicating factor.

Feller said asylum seekers and refugees are a relatively small part of the bigger and more complex phenomenon of people movement, but that they may use the same routes to move from countries as migrants. Systems put in place to manage migration should be set up to differentiate refugees and respond to their circumstances, she said.

The High Commissioner earlier this year suggested 10 areas where UNHCR could make a contribution to enabling entry management systems to properly categorize the circumstances of all new arrivals, identify those with international protection needs and respond accordingly.