Theresa May tackles refugee crisis in maiden UN address

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© COURTESY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
British prime minister Theresa May

BRITISH prime minister Theresa May gave her maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly as world leaders convened for a special summit on the global refugee crisis, just days after a UN aid convoy was bombed in Syria. 

May affirmed the UK’s commitment to playing a key role in the international community, pledging 0.7 per cent of GDP to development efforts and said that the decision to leave the EU was not a “vote to turn inwards from our partners around the world.”

Speaking on the migration crisis May called for a proper application of the Refugee Convention that would see asylum seekers based in their first country of arrival, and an expansion of camps bordering Syria, rather than reliance on resettlement in the west. 

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Noting that the number of displaced people across the world was roughly equivalent to the UK population, she distinguished between economic migrants and refugees, which drew criticism from some quarters. 

A wider address saw May announce that the UK would begin ratifying the Paris climate accords signed last year and pledge to send more British troops to Somalia to help train local forces in the fight against the Al-Shabaab militant group. 

The session also saw the last address from US president Barack Obama who claimed that America had been a “force for good” in global affairs, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, also giving his farewell speech, condemned the “sickening, savage and apparently deliberate attack” on the aid convoy on September 19 that killed at least 20 people.

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