Lubbers asks NGOs to lobby governments, protect refugees
GENEVA, Sept 24 (UNHCR) - UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, opening a three-day meeting in Geneva with some 140 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world, asked NGOs to lobby governments to provide better funding for refugees. Lubbers said NGOs could help lobby donor governments in their respective countries to provide adequate financial support to UNHCR, which this year has had to undergo substantial budget and staff cutbacks because of a funding shortfall. NGOs pledged to continue supporting UNHCR, but called for more active leadership from the agency.
Lubbers also called for more involvement of NGOs in protecting the rights of refugees. He said many of UNHCR's NGO partners were doing an excellent job of providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, and called on some of them to help UNHCR carry out its protection activities as well.
"I want you to reflect on how we can work together, to balance providing assistance to refugees and looking for solutions for them," he said. "This is because protection is not really protection if there is no durable solution. When there is no solution, people see no alternative but to go on the move, giving fuel to human traffickers. We push refugees into taking these options."
The three-day meeting with NGOs precedes the annual meeting of the refugee agency's Executive Committee, comprising 57 governments.