UNHCR begins annual consultations in Geneva with scores of NGOs
GENEVA, September 27 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency on Wednesday began annual consultations in Geneva with scores of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - vital partners in implementing UNHCR programmes around the world.
More than 300 delegates representing at least 179 NGOs from 85 different countries are attending the three-day talks.
NGOs are the UN refugee agency's right arm, implementing many of the crucial programmes for refugees and internally displaced people in some of the world's most remote and difficult places. In all, about a quarter of UNHCR's resources are channelled through its partners.
"The reality of today is that no humanitarian organisation can go it alone; we increasingly rely upon partnerships and collaborative mechanisms to deliver protection and solutions," UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Judy Cheng-Hopkins said in an opening address at the Palais des Nations.
The NGO consultations will be followed next week by the yearly meeting of UNHCR's 70-nation governing body, the Executive Committee ("ExCom"). Since 1997, NGOs have participated in UNHCR's Executive and Standing Committees as observers, intervening in the proceedings alongside states.
This week's NGO consultations are focusing on four broad themes: durable solutions for refugees; United Nations reform; Executive Committee conclusions; and the asylum-migration nexus.
In her address, Assistant High Commissioner Cheng-Hopkins highlighted the ways in which NGOs can help strengthen the humanitarian response to emergencies.
"UNHCR's emergency response capacity is largely dependent on how fast we can get the right people and the necessary relief items to the areas where they are most needed. There is clearly a need to better utilise local networks and knowledge to enhance the effectiveness and speed of our response. NGOs can and do play an important role in facilitating such cooperation and collaboration."
Cheng-Hopkins also addressed the challenges of ensuring the security of humanitarian staff, an issue of concern to all humanitarian organisations.
For the past two decades, the annual consultations have brought together NGOs and UNHCR managers to examine all facets of their partnership on behalf of the world's uprooted people. The UN refugee agency works extensively with well over 500 NGOs worldwide, many of them national or local organisations.
High Commissioner António Guterres will deliver closing remarks on Friday.