UN refugee agency reaffirms strong ties with two key NGO partners

News Stories, 11 July 2007

© UNHCR/S.Hopper
UNHCR High Commissioner António Guterres signs a memorandum of understanding with George Rupp, president of the International Rescue Committee.

GENEVA, July 11 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Wednesday reaffirmed longstanding ties with two key non-governmental partners the International Rescue Committee and the International Medical Corps (IMC).

High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres separately met high-level delegations from both United States-based NGOs and signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) on their strategic partnerships. IMC President Nancy Aossey and IRC President George Rupp inked the agreements on behalf of their respective agencies, which have implemented numerous programmes for UNHCR in the health, nutrition, shelter, education and water sectors.

"These MoUs constitute the basis for the development of a strategic and operational partnership between UNHCR and the two NGOs on both the global level and in specific operations," said Guterres.

Nicholas Coussidis, head of UNHCR's NGO unit, added that the goal of the MoUs was "to have a more global approach, which means UNHCR can not only use its implementing partners' human resources and capacity in the context of emergencies but also in the context of post-emergencies and relief and development situations."

The two MoUs signed Wednesday recognize shared commitments towards protection and assistance for refugees, internally displaced persons and other persons of concern. They also reflect the intention to strengthen cooperation between UNHCR and both IRC and IMC.

The partnership with IRC emphasizes closer collaboration in the areas of capacity-building initiatives, emergency response, education, environmental health, water sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition, durable solutions and protection especially in terms of prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence. The MoU with IMC stresses closer cooperation in the sectors of health and nutrition, emergency, and durable solutions.

In 2007, UNHCR is giving IRC US$15.2 million to implement programmes in the field, while IMC gets US$2.3 million.

"These agreements are not meant to be another policy document at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva," said Nicholas Coussidis. "They are really meant to reflect and concretize our partnerships in the field and for people in need to benefit from this collaboration."