UN agency welcomes refugee protection resolution by 34 states in the Americas

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today welcomed a resolution adopted by 34 States in the Americas calling on countries to enact national mechanisms to protect refugees, stateless and internally displaced persons in accordance with international standards. Adopted by general consensus during the 33rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in Santiago de Chile from 8 to 10 June, the resolution encourages the few American states which have not yet ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to do so. Thirty American states have so far ratified the treaty or its Protocol, according to UNHCR. The resolution also introduces two important innovations: it urges States to establish specific standards for the reception of asylum seekers and refugees, and emphasizes the importance of combating xenophobia and racial discrimination against these vulnerable groups. The resolution is good news for refugees and internally displaced people in the region, taking countries closer to a more comprehensive response to the needs of the victims of persecution and armed conflict, said Hope Hanlan, UNHCR Director for the Americas. Approximately 1 million asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons are of interest to UNHCR in North America. In South America over 2 million displaced Colombians continue to pose the most significant humanitarian challenges in the hemisphere.