High Commissioner Guterres sees mandate renewed for further five year term

News Stories, 22 April 2010

© UNHCR/B.Bannon
High Commissioner António Guterres speaking to a refugee family in Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. The UN General Assembly voted on 22 April to extend Guterres' term by a further five years.

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 22 (UNHCR) – The UN General Assembly voted on Thursday to renew the mandate of High Commissioner António Guterres, extending his term by a further five years.

Guterres, who was first appointed to the post in 2005, said in a statement that he felt humbled by the decision, describing it as "a privilege and an honour to go on dedicating my life to supporting one of the world's most vulnerable groups."

Since his appointment in June 2005 there have been significant changes in the refugee world. The number of people under UNHCR's care has grown to 35 million, some three million people have been helped to return home voluntarily, and there have been important breakthroughs in local integration, such as the recent naturalization by Tanzania of more than 160,000 Burundian refugees from the group that fled there in 1972.

In his statement, Guterres focused on future work. "There are enormous challenges ahead," he said. "These include addressing rising threats to humanitarian and asylum space amid growing intolerance and xenophobia, and deepening reforms at UNHCR while strengthening our capacities in protection and emergency response."

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The High Commissioner

António Guterres, who joined UNHCR on June 15, 2005, is the UN refugee agency's 10th High Commissioner.

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Sister Angélique, through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls who had been forced from their homes and abused by fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) or other armed groups. Many of those she helps suffered abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape or other human rights abuses.

The Roman Catholic nun helps survivors to heal by offering them the chance to learn a trade, start a small business or go to school. Testimonies from these women show the remarkable effect she has had on helping turn around their lives, with many affectionately calling her "mother."

The Award ceremony featured a keynote speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and Grammy-nominated Malian musicians, Amadou and Mariam.

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Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joined UNHCR chief António Guterres on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where they met with boat people who have fled unrest in North Africa.

More than 40,000 people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have crossed the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats and descended on the small island since the beginning of the year.

The UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador flew to Lampedusa from Malta, which has also been a destination for people fleeing North Africa by boat.

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

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