Budapest an Excellent Choice for UNHCR

Friday 5, June 2009 Budapest, 5 June 2009 – “Budapest was an excellent choice to invest in and the Hungarian Capital is a privileged location,” said António Guterres the High Commissioner of UNHCR on Friday, the end of his two-day visit in Hungary. During his stay the Hungarian government handed […]

Friday 5, June 2009

Budapest, 5 June 2009 – “Budapest was an excellent choice to invest in and the Hungarian Capital is a privileged location,” said António Guterres the High Commissioner of UNHCR on Friday, the end of his two-day visit in Hungary. During his stay the Hungarian government handed the whole office building over to UNHCR in addition to the four floors already in use.

Guterres has expressed his deep gratitude for the Hungarian Government “for the generosity and level of hospitality that is difficult to match,” and ensured the “UNHCR will make very good use of the premises.”

Now UNHCR is establishing a Global Learning Centre in the extra space received. The High Commissioner emphasized the importance of the learning centre, as working for UNHCR requires specific knowledge that cannot be obtained elsewhere. “We will work better as an organisation and each staff member will benefit individually in their carrier development”.

Guterres also drew attention to the quality improvement of services and to the excellent teams in Budapest “providing better response and quicker service” praising the high education level and skills of the Hungarian staff. “I would like to thank all the colleagues in Budapest for creating this centre of excellence” he added.

Guterres said that the relocation of the departments resulted in larger savings than foreseen earlier. This means the UNHCR will be able maintain its level of activities in spite of a 10% budget loss due the global economic crisis.

Humanitarian Space Narrowing

The High Commissioner summarised the increasing challenges UNHCR is facing. New patterns of migration make it difficult to find out why people are compelled to move. There is a mix of reasons that may include conflict, climate change and economic pressure while at the same time host countries are less welcoming towards refugees.

Many conflicts are getting worse, such as Pakistan/Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia or the Palestinian problems. There are also minor flight movements largely unnoticed by the world nevertheless requiring UNCHR response, such as an influx to Chad from the Central African Republic of to Uganda from DRC.

UNHCR’s mission is enlarging as donor countries find themselves in the trough of an economic recession. In 2009 UNHCR will face a 10% loss of income in relation to what is budgeted, Guterres said. “So it is our obligation to keep administrative costs low and in this respect the Budapest Centre has proved a give success. We can cope with the crisis without affecting the beneficiaries.”

The High Commissioner also warned of a narrowing of humanitarian space as the nature of conflicts is becoming more complex. There are no more two warring parties, but a presence of armies, rebels, militias in the same conflict zone. Thus not only is it difficult to deliver to the growing number of victims, but humanitarian staff is increasingly becoming the target of aggression.

By Judit Lengyel

UNHCR Regional Representation

Budapest