Ex-Islamic State captive pleads to world leaders for refugee help

September 19, 2016 5:54 PM EDT

Nadia Murad Basee Taha (L), a 21-year-old Iraqi woman of the Yazidi faith who was abducted and held by the Islamic State for three months, meets with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, December 30, 2015. REU

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By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A young Yazidi woman held captive and raped by Islamic State militants appealed to world leaders at the United Nations on Monday to end war and improve the lives of millions of refugees as they agreed a voluntary framework to respond to the global crisis.

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, 23, recently appointed a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, told leaders at a U.N. refugee and migrants summit ahead of the 71st General Assembly: "You decide whether it is to be war or peace."

"We have to address the causes of immigration, not just the immigration itself... We have to end wars and put humanity first," said Taha, who was held by Islamic State in Iraq for several months in 2014. "I wished that the rapes I endured by 12 terrorists were 12 bullets in my flesh."

With a record 21.3 million refugees globally, the 193-member General Assembly adopted a political declaration in which they also agreed to spend the next two years negotiating global compacts on refugees and safe, orderly and regular migration.

But the declaration, which is not legally binding, does not include a call by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for 10 percent of refugees to be resettled annually and has been dismissed by human rights and aid groups as insufficient.

"Let's not be fooled," Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, 19, - a Pakistani education activist who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on her school bus in 2012 - said in a statement. She has been raising money to educate Syrian refugee children.

"The declaration does not include any new, substantive commitments for refugees," Yousafzai said. "Away from the cameras, in refugee camps and roadways, in boats and out of school around the globe, the world's refugee children were hoping for more. They deserve more."

Ban and U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein urged states to implement commitments in the declaration, which Ban said could allow more children to go to school and more workers to seek jobs abroad.

"The bitter truth is, this summit has been called because we have been largely failing," Zeid said.

"It is shameful the victims of abominable crimes should be made to suffer further by our failures to give them protection. It is abhorrent that desperate women, men and children can be branded as criminals, and detained," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama will host a refugee summit at the United Nations on Tuesday that aims to boost humanitarian funds by a third and double the number of refugees being resettled. Countries can only attend if they make a pledge.

The summit also aims to increase the number of refugees worldwide in school by one million and the number of refugees granted the legal right to work by one million.

Japan announced on Monday that it would provide $2.8 billion to help deal with the global refugee crisis over three years from 2016, while China said it would give an additional $100 million and is also considering setting aside a $1 billion fund for the purpose.

German Development Minister Gerd Muller told the summit on Monday that $20 billion was needed to meet refugees' basic needs.

"But what are $20 billion for the international community? The World Cup in the desert country of Qatar will probably cost about $200 billion in investment," he said.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Bill Rigby)

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