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Statement by H.E. Mr. Milan Milanovic - Economic and Social Council, Humanitarian affairs segment, 27 Jun 2016

Friday, 01 July 2016

Your Excellency, President of ECOSOC,


Distinguished colleagues,


The Humanitarian segment of ECOSOC is taking place a month after the landmark Humanitarian summit in Istanbul where members states of the UN in the presence of a plethora of multi-stakeholders supported the five core responsibilities outlined in the Secretary-General’s Report One humanity: Shared Responsibility. The Republic of Serbia in Istanbul adhered to the five core commitments and fully stands by them. It is clear that the Istanbul Summit was not the end but the beginning of an arduous journey in which the international community working together must find urgent solutions to alleviate the plight of now 130 million people who are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and over sixty five million who are displaced, and this number is rising. This is not a time for business as usual. The Agenda for sustainable development until 2030, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai conference on disaster risk reduction and the Paris Climate Change Agreement have set out part of the road map which has now been enriched by the deliberations in Istanbul on how to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Time must not be wasted. Urgent measures need to be taken to prevent and end wars and particularly civilian casualties in conflict. It is clear that root causes of conflicts must be addressed and political solutions found. Respect and compliance with international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles particularly protection of civilians including women and girls and other vulnerable groups must be fully adhered to.

In our quest to leave no one behind we must in a coherent and focused manner try to find solutions for the wave of refugees that are forced to abandon their homes and look for safety elsewhere. Over seven hundred thousands of refugees and migrants have passed through Serbia since the beginning of last year. Even though the so called Western Balkan route is not active anymore a steady smaller stream of migrants continues to enter Serbia daily due to the illegal activities of traffickers and smugglers. We are concerned that the wave of migrants might resume if lasting solutions are not found. Serbia has throughout the present migrant/refugee crises shown empathy and compassion, providing assistance for migrants and refugees transiting through Serbia which has been noted by our partners in the EU and elsewhere. We have called for a comprehensive European wide solution to the migrant crisis. Serbia’s solidarity with the plight of the migrants stems from our own experience with refugees from neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia with still over 30 thousand remaining in Serbia twenty years after the end of the conflict and more than two hundred thousand internally displaced in protracted long term displacement  from our province of Kosovo and Metohija. The unprecedented floods in 2014 that affected a third of our country causing loss of life and extensive material damage make us highly sensitized and fully aware of the challenges caused by global climate change. We look forward to the Summit on refugees and migrants to be held at UN headquarters in New York on 19 September that will once again try to find lasting solutions to this pressing challenge.

Today’s mixed migration flows indicate that massive movements of people are not caused only by conflicts. Due to poverty, inequality and instability many decide to embark on a long and insecure journey in search of better life opportunities often becoming an easy prey for smugglers and traffickers. We should therefore, enhance and strengthen our cooperation in fighting transnational organized crime networks abusing those people in despair. We should also look at innovative ways on how to gain from migration in today’s globalized world and foster regular migrations to the benefit of both countries of origin and destination.


Mr. President,

The Economic and Social Council has a key role to play in the implementation of the Agenda for sustainable development until 2030 which encompasses many humanitarian issues and concerns and we must work together diligently to ensure that the Council is equipped and strengthened to deal with the transformative challenges and tasks put before it in the monitoring and review of its implementation. The High level political forum has a unique role and responsibility to this effect and we look forward to its first meeting after the Adoption of the Agenda for sustainable development in July.


Thank  you, Mr. President.