UNHCR and Danish Refugee Council pledge closer collaboration

News Stories, 26 February 2007

© UNHCR/S.Hopper
High Commissioner António Guterres signs a cooperation agreement with Andrew Kamm, secretary general of the Danish Refugee Council.

GENEVA, February 26 (UNHCR) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), one of the top non-governmental organisations working for refugees and displaced people worldwide, signed a formal agreement on Monday to strengthen their existing cooperation and support each other's work.

"This memorandum of understanding between our two organisations will help us build on our respective strengths and capacities, improving efficiency in key areas of refugee protection and humanitarian action," said High Commissioner António Guterres, on signing the agreement at UNHCR's Geneva headquarters.

The agreement will pave the way for more effective cooperation in the areas of refugee protection, advocacy and emergency response. It will also strengthen existing collaboration in the areas of transport, logistics, emergency shelter and the deployment of personnel to field operations.

"UNHCR and DRC share a commitment to protect and assist refugees and internally displaced persons and to look for solutions to their plight, and the agreement reflects the growing cooperation between them at the field level," said Andrew Kamm, secretary general of the Danish organisation.

Established in 1956 following the flight to Denmark of 1,500 Hungarian refugees, the Danish Refugee Council is a private, humanitarian organisation which works to protect people affected by conflict around the world, as well as helping refugees in Denmark. It implements projects in 30 countries and has a budget for this year of US$78.8 million (approximately 60 million euros).

The two organisations already cooperate in more than 20 countries in areas such as assistance for voluntary repatriation and local settlement, legal assistance, community services, shelter and infrastructure.

During the course of last year, DRC deployed 40 staff to work with UNHCR as part of an agreement to enhance the agency's capacity to assist and protect refugees as well as other persons of concern in emergency situations. This year to date, eight DRC staff members have been seconded to UNHCR.

With the signing of the memorandum of understanding, however, the long history of close cooperation between UNHCR and DRC is set to enter a new phase.

Last May, UNHCR signed a similar agreement with the Norwegian Refugee Council. At the time, both parties expressed their commitment to extend their partnership to other organisations.