International Conference on Refugees in Muslim World Opens in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in coordination with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Turkmenistan is holding an international ministerial conference on "Refugees in the Muslim World" today and tomorrow in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The meeting is the first OIC conference exclusively focusing on the refugee situation in the Muslim world and other related issues. Representatives of all 57 OIC member states, non-member states, NGOs and international organizations are participating in the two-day event.

The conference will highlight the continued generous hospitality and assistance extended by OIC Member States to refugees and asylum-seekers, many of whom have been hosted in large numbers over a long period of time. It will also seek to encourage further actions to address the root causes of displacement.

Speaking earlier today at the opening of the conference, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said that in 2011, OIC states hosted 50% of the persons who are of concern to UNHCR.

The main themes of the conference are - the role of UNHCR in enhancing refugee protection in OIC Member States; multilateral cooperation including burden and responsibility sharing to protect and assist refugees; and voluntary repatriation as the most preferred durable solution for any refugee situation.

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