Guterres emphasizes need for close partnerships at the end of three day meetings with NGOs
GENEVA, September 29 (UNHCR) - At the end of three days of Annual Consultations between some 190 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the UN refugee agency, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Thursday highlighted the strategic importance of NGOs in helping UNHCR define its objectives and policies.
"It is important that we work closely as strategic partners, in a very transparent climate," Guterres said, addressing more than 300 NGO representatives gathered at the UN's Geneva headquarters. "UNHCR simply does not have all the financial nor physical means to implement its programmes: we have to coordinate and cooperate closely so NGOs can help us do what we cannot do alone."
Guterres emphasized the need for NGOs to be involved from the beginning of the planning cycle at the field level, while at the same time participating in the preparation of policy guidelines at the Geneva headquarters level.
Over the three days, NGO representatives met with UNHCR and other experts to discuss issues that seriously affect the protection of refugees and internally displaced people around the world. The once-a-year meeting allows NGOs to bring forward concerns and issues that will be incorporated in discussions during next week's meeting of UNHCR's governing body.
In his closing remarks, Guterres highlighted various challenges faced by UNHCR: "The increased intolerance in today's world is putting asylum principles at stake," he said. "It will be crucial to stem this tide and NGOs, as an operational partner as well as civil societies, can help us advocate for a more tolerant climate."
Guterres added that mixed migration flows - in which migrants, smugglers and asylum seekers arrive on Europe's shores - make access to asylum for genuine refugees much more difficult. A huge problem, he said, which can only be addressed with the help of all actors, including states, NGOs and other members of the international community. Guterres also expressed his concern about the increasing gap between relief and development.
The Annual Consultations precede the 56th Session of the Executive Committee, UNHCR's governing body of states. This session will last five days and starts on Monday, October 3.