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Pressure grows amid highest refugee flows since WWII

The flow of refugees is hitting decade-highs and the pressure on wealthy nations seen as a haven from conflict will intensify further, Mogens Lykketoft, president of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), warned on Friday.

"Right now, we have more conflicts and more displaced persons and refugees from these conflicts then there has [been] at any time since World War II … there will be a continued pressure of people wanting to migrate from poor countries where [there's] not many future opportunities to the richer parts of the world," Lykketoft, who has served both as Denmark's Foreign and Finance Minister, told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Lykketoft, who was unanimously elected as UNGA president in June 2015, said he was "moderately" optimistic that a resolution to the conflict in Syria can be found. He believes "there's a good chance finally to end this long, bloody conflict and the humanitarian crisis [and] catastrophes associated with it."


A volunteer (R) asks a Syrian refugee to hand over his child as they arrive aboard a raft at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos October 23, 2015.
Yannis Behrakis | Reuters
A volunteer (R) asks a Syrian refugee to hand over his child as they arrive aboard a raft at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos October 23, 2015.

However, Lykketoft told CNBC that he is unsure a ceasefire in Syria would bring an end to the flow of migration around the world.

Lykketoft also expressed hope that a UN conference would bring offers of resettlement of Syrian refugees from wealthier nations.

"The root causes of this wave of refugees is the conflict and if we bring the conflict to a standstill, we will have chances, if we combine it with a much stronger humanitarian effort from the rich countries around the world," said Lykketoft, to CNBC.


The Resettlement Conference will be held by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva at the end of March to gather pledges to resettle people displaced by the Syrian conflict.

Turning to the dangers of global terrorism, Lykketoft said world leaders should set aside their differences and combine efforts in the fight against jihadist group ISIS to contain the threat it poses.

"There must be an increased understanding that the fight against Daesh/ISIS is a common issue," he said.


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