What World Leaders Said At The U.N. About The Refugee Crisis

Most encouraged their peers to work together and show compassion.

As 169 world leaders poured into New York City for the United Nations' 70th General Assembly, the migrant and refugee crisis was at the forefront of many of their speeches.

During the meeting, which started Monday and runs through Saturday, many leaders called on the international community to act together and to mobilize resources to help the countries taking in high proportions of migrants and refugees.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivered an impassioned speech on Monday, in which he connected the struggles and aspirations of Syrian refugees who have fled their war-torn country with those of the American people. "In the faces of suffering families, our nation of immigrants sees ourselves," he said.

Take a look at what world leaders said about the ongoing crisis:

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
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"In a world where goods, capital, data and ideas flow freely, it is absurd to impede the free flow of people," Rousseff said. She mentioned in particular how photographs of Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy washed ashore on a Turkish beach, as well as those of an abandoned truck carrying 71 migrants attempting to enter Austria, should be translated into "unequivocal acts of solidarity."
U.S. President Barack Obama
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"In the faces of suffering families, our nation of immigrants sees ourselves," Obama said, echoing remarks Pope Francis made last week about the United States' immigrant history.

On Sept. 20, the U.S. vowed to take in 100,000 migrants and refugees by 2017; 18 mayors around the country later offered to take in even more Syrian refugees than the government proposed.
European Council President Donald Tusk
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The migrant and refugee crisis, Tusk said, demands global solidarity.

"Everyone can offer help to the refugees," he said. "And those who do not want to, at least shouldn't hide their indifference by criticizing Europe for doing too little."

The EU has been at the forefront of the deteriorating migrant and refugee crisis. Last week, EU member states approved plans to take in 120,000 refugees, and to add 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in humanitarian funding to organizations including the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and World Food Program.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
"At present up to 10,000 new refugees are arriving every day," Steinmeier said. "These figures show that even we cannot shoulder this alone in the long term. We need a European solution!"

Germany is the largest recipient of migrants and refugees in Europe and expects to receive about one million migrants and refugees in 2015 alone.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
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"For some the only way to deal with this challenge is to build walls higher, to repel migrants by force or to ensure that they remain someone else's responsibility -- as far away as possible," Tsipras said. "We do not believe that the future of Europe or our world can be built on ever-higher walls or children dying at our doorstep. Neither can we forget that many of our ancestors were refugees and migrants."

Greece, deemed a "frontline" EU member state due to its location in the Mediterranean Sea, has been one of the largest recipients of migrants and refugees from the Middle East. Over 362,000 people have arrived to Greece by sea since the beginning of 2015. The country warned in July that it couldn't cope with the arrivals. In his speech, Tsipras called on the U.N. to "increase support for frontline European states, such as Greece, in their effort to manage these flows" to help mitigate the crisis.
King Abdullah II Of Jordan
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"It is high time the international community acts collectively in facing this unprecedented humanitarian crisis and support countries like Jordan and Lebanon, which have been carrying the brunt of this burden over the past four years," Abdullah said.

Syrian refugees alone currently make up about 20 percent of his country's entire population, he added. Jordan has been taking in refugees from Syria since the beginning of the country's crisis, and is facing an increasingly large drain on its resources and infrastructure, the U.N.'s Refugee Agency reported in January.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
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"Refugees, undoubtedly, need our compassion and support," Putin said in his first U.N. General Assembly address in 10 years. "However, the only way to solve this problem at a fundamental level is to restore the statehood where it has been destroyed."

In other words, he believed the only way to solve the Syrian refugee crisis -- as well as to remove the threat of the Islamic State -- is to bolster Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's regime. Obama, who has continuously called for the end of the Assad regime, had a tense exchange with Putin after the General Assembly speeches.
Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz
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"The picture of refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea or suffocated in trucks will continue to haunt us," Kurz said. "We therefore need a change of system. We need to create the possibility for refugees to apply for asylum already in their countries of origin or neighboring countries."

Many migrants and refugees enter Austria from Eastern Europe, often hoping to eventually reach its neighboring country Germany. On Sept. 19, a staggering 10,000 people entered Austrian borders from Slovenia and Hungary.
Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam
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"Lebanon reiterates its call to the international community, namely all prominent powers in the world, to rise above the reluctance and lingering and stop fighting with Syrian blood and on Syrian territory, urging them to end the ongoing massacres, by fostering a political solution that safeguards the country's unity, independence and territorial integrity, while fulfilling the Syrian people's aspirations for a free and dignified life," Salam said.

Lebanon has the world's largest number of refugees per capita: The country of 4.4 million currently houses 1.1 million Syrian refugees, 45,000 Palestinian refugees and 17,000 Iraqi refugees, per EU statistics.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto
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"The refugee crisis is causing serious political tension in Europe. Finland is also receiving proportionally a very high number of asylum seekers. Not helping is not an option for us," Niinisto said. "But we have to find more effective and sustainable ways to help those in need."

Over 13,000 asylum seekers, mainly from Iraq, have entered Finland's borders so far this year, compared to just 3,600 the year before. But the migrant and refugee crisis has caused rifts within the country recently. On Sept. 25, over 30 ultranationalist demonstrators violently attacked a bus carrying asylum seekers into the country -- an act the government strongly condemned. The country's prime minister, Juha Sipila, on other other hand, announced on Sept. 5 that he would welcome refugees to stay at his home in northern Finland starting early next year.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
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"We have experience working to foster human resources, offering our utmost in humanitarian assistance and upholding women's rights," Abe said. "Now more than ever, Japan wishes to offer that wealth of experience, unstintingly." Abe also offered to give $4.5 million in humanitarian aid to countries dealing with the influx of migrants and refugees.

Earlier in September, Abe also pledged $200 million in nonmilitary aid for refugees fleeing the Islamic State's violence. But critics say financial support isn't enough. Japan has been attacked for its lack of physical aid -- despite the country's shrinking population, it accepted a mere 11 asylum seekers from a sea of 5,000 applications in 2014.

This is an ongoing report. We will update the post as the General Debate continues this week.

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