Merkel Calls on World Leaders to Tackle Source of Refugee Surge

  • German chancellor stepping up global efforts at UN summit
  • Merkel ties refugee efforts to climate change, poverty

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on world leaders to tackle the root causes of a global surge in refugees by pushing back on war and terror, as governments across the Middle East and Europe seek ways to confront the worst migration crisis since World War II.

After opening Germany’s borders this year to a flood of refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria, Merkel took her message to the United Nations on Friday, hours after Pope Francis condemned global inequality. She linked actions to resolve the migration crisis to efforts on fighting climate change and poverty.

“Millions of people feel forced today to flee because of war, terror and violence,” Merkel said in the speech during her third visit to the UN as chancellor. “We have to work against the source that causes people to flee or be driven out.”

Merkel’s speech kicked off a three-day trip to New York, where the chancellor aims to enhance Germany’s efforts to tackle global issues including climate change, disease outbreaks and gender inequality. As Germany braces for 800,000 or more refugees this year, its top politician has called on European Union leaders to share the burden.

Merkel’s speech also marked the introduction of the UN’s sustainable development goals, which aim to eliminate poverty and address climate change with a set of global objectives through 2030.

The German leader urged industrial countries to lead the world toward lower carbon pollution by honoring a pledge to mobilize $100 billion annually to combat climate change and mitigate its impacts. UN-sponsored climate talks are expected to conclude in Paris in December, with envoys from more than 190 countries set to gather.

“We need a common vision of how to achieve de-carbonization globally by the end of the century,” Merkel said. “It will be important for industrial countries” to keep pledges made at a UN framework conference in Copenhagen in 2009 “to offer developing countries $100 billion a year starting in 2020 for climate protection,” she said.

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