President Barack Obama called on world leaders to help the 60 million refugees fleeing their homes in the Middle East and Africa because of ongoing conflicts.
“These are humanitarian crises and refugees we cannot ignore and we have to deliver urgent aid needed right now,” he said in a speech to the United Nations on Sunday. “Those countries that can, must do more to accommodate refugees, recognizing that those children are just like ours.”
The United Nations General Assembly met in New York on Sunday to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which sets global goals in areas including health, equality, climate change, and education.
While Obama’s speech did not include specifics on how to help the refugees, it did have a message of working together to end extreme poverty and create equal opportunities around the world.
The president praised the past world successes of lowering global hunger rates, putting more people in schools and preventing the spread of measles and tuberculosis, but said there is more to be done.
He said bad governance and inequalities threaten world development, bringing specific attention to inequality of women around the world.
“One of best indicators of country’s success is how it treats its women,” Obama said. “Every nation must invest in education and health and skills of women and girls.”
Obama tied the mission to end poverty to the need to address climate change worldwide, saying we may see climate change refugees in the future.
“All of our countries will be affected by a changing climate,” he said. “But the world’s poorest people will bear the heaviest burden.”
He said addressing climate change is “a moral calling” referring to the message from Pope Francis days before when he spoke to the General Assembly.
Pope Francis also spoke about the refugee crisis, and migration in general, in his address to Congress on Thursday.
“We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation,” Francis preached.
Obama appeared to echo that sentiment on Sunday and making it clear that these global issues will not be solved by one nation.
“This must be the work of the world,” Obama said.