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UNHCR and UN Population Fund strengthen ties

News Stories, 30 April 2008

© UNHCR/S.Hopper
High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid after the signing.

GENEVA, April 30 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday agreed to strengthen their partnership in areas such as reproductive health and countering sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and broaden cooperation to include statelessness and profiling of internally displaced people.

The sister organizations have been collaborating on issues of mutual interest for many years. This cooperation has grown even closer under the global reform process launched by the United Nations to improve the predictability, timeliness and effectiveness of humanitarian response.

"The newly signed letter is an attempt to broaden the cooperation between the agencies," said Karl Steinacker, head of UNHCR's field information and coordination support section.

The joint letter signed in Geneva on Wednesday by High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid will build on a memorandum of understanding signed by UNHCR and UNFPA in June 1995. It will also help the two UN agencies advance their respective mandates.

In UNHCR's case this means protecting, assisting, and finding durable solutions to the problems of refugees and addressing the issue of statelessness. For UNFPA, it entails promoting the right of every man, woman and child to enjoy good health and equal opportunity.

To ensure that refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) can enjoy these rights, UNHCR and UNFPA have developed several initiatives, including the preparation of manuals on reproductive heath. UNFPA also supplies UNHCR with items, including male and female condoms, aimed at preventing unwanted pregnancies as well as the transmission of sexually transmitted infections in conflict zones.

The two agencies have also been collaborating on a photographic and video project designed to help de-stigmatize HIV/AIDS by showing that people living with HIV can lead a normal existence. "Positive Living, an exhibition for refugee settings" has toured refugee camps all over Africa.

UNHCR and UNFPA have also jointly engaged in opposing SGBV through the provision of training, guidelines and resources for the clinical management of rape. Together with the International Rescue Committee, they plan to develop an information management system to help develop adequate strategies to prevent and reduce the devastating impact of SGBV on refugee communities.

At a global level, obtaining accurate demographic and other relevant information on displaced populations remains a challenge that will benefit from specific collaboration between the two UN agencies.

At a country level, UNHCR and UNFPA will work together to provide UN country teams with an accurate profile of internally displaced, which is a precondition for effective relief and finding durable solutions.

UNFPA's expertise in the field of civil registration and in organizing population censuses, can contribute to the identification and prevention of statelessness. For example, registration of births helps to ensure that persons who are entitled to recognition as citizens are recognized as such. Additionally, population censuses can help identify the magnitude of statelessness.

As of the end of 2007, just under 3 million stateless people had been reported for 51 countries, compared to 5.9 million for 49 countries a year earlier. The drop is due to the regularization of the situation of 2.6 million people in Nepal and some 300,000 in Bangladesh.

However, UNHCR believes that up to 9 million more people are stateless but have not been reported as such. This highlights the need for accurate figures and the importance of the cooperation between UNFPA and UNHCR.




Non-Governmental Organizations

A priority for us is to strengthen partnerships with non-governmental organizations.

Governments as Partners

UNHCR works with host governments to protect and assist refugees and to find solutions.

Partnership: An Operations Management Handbook for UNHCR's Partners (Revised Edition)

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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR and Partners Tackle Malnutrition in Mauritania Camp

The UN refugee agency has just renewed its appeal for funds to help meet the needs of tens of thousands of Malian refugees and almost 300,000 internally displaced people. The funding UNHCR is seeking is needed, among other things, for the provision of supplementary and therapeutic food and delivery of health care, including for those suffering from malnutrition. This is one of UNHCR's main concerns in the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania, which hosts more than 70,000 Malians. A survey on nutrition conducted last January in the camp found that more than 13 per cent of refugee children aged under five suffer from acute malnutrition and more than 41 per cent from chronic malnutrition. Several measures have been taken to treat and prevent malnutrition, including distribution of nutritional supplements to babies and infants, organization of awareness sessions for mothers, increased access to health facilities, launch of a measles vaccination campaign and installation of better water and sanitation infrastructure. Additional funding is needed to improve the prevention and response mechanisms. UNHCR appealed last year for US$144 million for its Mali crisis operations in 2013, but has received only 32 per cent to date. The most urgent needs are food, shelter, sanitation, health care and education.

The photographs in this set were taken by Bechir Malum.

UNHCR and Partners Tackle Malnutrition in Mauritania Camp

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