Japan to start a pilot resettlement programme

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

High Commissioner António Guterres is concluding his fifth official visit to Japan. During a meeting with Prime Minister Taro Aso, an announcement was made that Japan will be introducing a pilot resettlement programme to accept Myanmar refugees in Thailand beginning in 2010. This will make Japan the first country in the region to introduce a resettlement programme. The High Commissioner welcomed the announcement and said this historic step reaffirms Japan's leadership role in the humanitarian arena.

"Quality comes before quantity. Success is essential," Mr. Guterres said of the pilot resettlement programme. "I am glad that Japan is starting with a small programme. As such, I am confident that the pilot project will develop and expand into a regular and large programme."

During his two-day mission in Tokyo, the High Commissioner also expressed his gratitude to the Government of Japan for its many years of support for UNHCR. In 2008, Japan contributed more than US$110 million to UNHCR programmes worldwide. The High Commissioner expressed his appreciation for this continued commitment to support UNHCR's activities in the face of the deepening international economic crisis.