Speech minister Ploumen at Leaders Summit on Refugees

Speech by minister Lilianne Ploumen for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation at the Leaders' Summit on Refugees in New York (20 September 2016)

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

President Obama was more than right to call this summit.
Sixty-five million people are on the run.

The Netherlands takes its responsibility. My country is a top-10 humanitarian donor worldwide. For 2016 we pledge a total of 755 million euros to assist refugees. Because women and girls are especially vulnerable, our programs focus specifically on their needs. In Turkey, Dutch companies have opened up more than 200 job opportunities for Syrian refugees. Dutch programs offer training and coaching to fulfil the vacancies. Imagine that all of you gathered in this room would do the same: Talk to the CEO’s of companies investing in countries hosting large numbers of refugees and advise them to create jobs for refugees and host communities alike. Thát would really make a difference.  

Attention is geared towards the crisis in Syria. But we must not forget about other people whose suffering does not make it to the daily headlines. Palestinian refugees in the region have seen their situation go from bad to worse. The Netherlands pledges an extra contribution of 4 million euros to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

The Netherlands is also committed to provide a safe haven for refugees who find their way to our country. This year, already 15,000 refugees have been granted asylum. 500 refugees will be invited to the Netherlands under the UNHCR resettlement programme annually. Through this and by resettling Syrian refugees from Turkey under the EU-Turkey Declaration, the Netherlands will contribute towards a maximum of 4,000 resettlement places for refugees in the coming years. And my country is committed to the agreement to relocate asylum seekers within the European Union.

Your excellencies,

In recent years the international community pledged many billions of dollars. Now it is time for action. We have to stick to our promises. We have to pay, we have to resettle, we have to respect international humanitarian law. Only yesterday, the outrageous bombing of aid workers near Aleppo showed once more a total lack of respect for these principles. Those responsible must be held accountable, sooner rather than later. 

Imagine yourself as a refugee in Lebanon, Uganda, or Turkey. What would you expect to come out of this summit?  Words, promises and pledges. Yes, as a start, these are of crucial importance.  But being a refugee, you will want us to deliver. To offer protection and perspective, to work for peace in your home country, to support you to live a life in dignity.  

For that we all will be held accountable. That is what today is all about. 

Thank you.

Ministry responsible