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Annual NGO Consultations begin Wednesday; 'ExCom' next week

Briefing notes

Annual NGO Consultations begin Wednesday; 'ExCom' next week

26 September 2006

UNHCR's Annual Consultations with Non-Governmental Organisations begin here at the Palais tomorrow (Wednesday), followed next week by the yearly meeting of our 70-nation governing body, the Executive Committee.

The NGO consultations this week will run through Friday, and will bring together representatives of at least 179 NGO partners from 85 countries. More than 300 delegates are expected. NGOs are UNHCR's right arm, implementing many of the crucial programmes for refugees and internally displaced people that we coordinate in some of the world's most remote and difficult places. In all, about a quarter of UNHCR's resources are channelled through our partners.

This week's NGO consultations will focus on four broad themes - durable solutions for refugees; UN reform; Executive Committee Conclusions; and the asylum-migration nexus. The session will be opened with an address on Wednesday by UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, Judy Cheng-Hopkins. High Commissioner António Guterres will deliver closing remarks on Friday.

For the past two decades, the annual consultations have brought together NGOs and UNHCR managers to examine all facets of our partnership on behalf of the world's uprooted people. In recent years, the meeting has been held the week before the annual meeting of UNHCR's governing body, the Executive Committee.

For your planning, the 70-nation UNHCR Executive Committee begins its five-day meeting on Monday, Oct. 2, in the Assembly Hall here at the Palais. The meeting is open to media. During the week, "ExCom" reviews and approves our programmes and budget, advises on international protection issues and discusses a wide range of other topics with UNHCR and its inter-governmental and non-governmental partners.

High Commissioner Guterres will deliver his opening ExCom address on Monday morning, sometime after 10 a.m. We'll issue a press release and copies of his opening address on Monday morning. We'll do other press releases during the week as warranted, including on the annual protection report by UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller.

The opening session on Monday morning will also introduce our 2006 Nansen Refugee Award winner, Dr. Akio Kanai, a Japanese optometrist who over more than two decades has improved the quality of life of over 100,000 uprooted people around the world by testing their eyes and providing them with spectacles. Mr. Kanai's award was announced in July, but this is his first visit to Geneva since the announcement. Please let us know if you'd like an interview with Dr. Kanai next week and we'll try to set it up for you. His story of "humanitarian optometry" on behalf of refugees around the world is an interesting one, particularly since he himself was displaced from the northern Pacific island of Sakhalin at the end of World War II.

Hard copies of next week's preliminary ExCom schedule are at the back of the room, along with copies of the provisional agenda. The full schedule and all of the relevant documents are also available on the UNHCR website. Throughout the week, updated information and documents will be posted daily on the site. So you may want to check the website regularly as well.

Please note that the first day's ExCom session on Monday will be held in the Assembly Hall, and then the meeting moves on Tuesday to Salle XVII for the rest of the week.

As usual, the High Commissioner will hold a briefing here around midday on Friday, Oct. 6.

We'll have more information at Friday's briefing as well.