Panel Discussion on Unaccompanied Migrant Children & Adolescents & Human Rights
PANEL DISCUSSION ON UNACCOMPANIED MIGRANT
CHILDREN & ADOLESCENTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Thank you Mr. President
Fiji notes the progress on the global issue of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents and human rights. This issue that confronts us is one of the most vexed and painful for any nation that values human rights – the great suffering we have all witnessed as a result of the mass movement of refugees and migrants from various parts of the world, in particular unaccompanied children and adolescents.
The issue of climate change displacing large numbers of people is of particular concern to Fiji. We are in a region of the world that is especially vulnerable to the extreme weather events and rising sea levels caused by global warming, and we are already beginning to consider an urgent case scenario in which three low-lying Pacific nations, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands will be submerged altogether. Fiji has offered to give refuge to the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu, our closest neighbours, if that worst case scenario eventuates, but we are clearly going to need the assistance of the rest of the world to do so.
As a global community, we also face the complex task of establishing a legal framework for these mass movements of climate refugees to take place. Fiji has set up a modest specialist unit – funded by itself - to research the various legal issues arising from climate change refugees. Fiji’s Prime Minister has urged the support of the international community to support this initiative and work with Fiji and complement the resources we already have allocated to this project. There is a clear imperative to do so. We must develop safe, legal and regular avenues for ordinary people in need to find refuge for themselves and their families. And develop better ways to integrate them into other societies and become valued citizens of their adopted homes.
Therefore, Fiji welcomes any solution within a framework of solidarity for regional and international cooperation to facilitate family reunification for family care, protection and guidance that would promote for the welfare and best interests of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents, as applicable under respective national law, as the primary consideration in every matter concerning the child.
Fiji looks forward to the report on this panel discussion, and thanks the panel for its invaluable contribution.