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UN Secretary-General visits UNHCR headquarters, pays tribute to staff


UN Secretary-General visits UNHCR headquarters, pays tribute to staff

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pays his first visit to UNHCR's Geneva headquarters and tells staff they could be proud of their work.
14 October 2008
First Visit: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses UNHCR staff at headquarters in Geneva.

GENEVA, October 14 (UNHCR) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday paid his first visit to UNHCR's Geneva headquarters, where he told staff they could be proud of the work they do on behalf of the most vulnerable people in many of the world's most difficult hotspots.

"I have deep appreciation for all of the staff of UNHCR, and also for the High Commissioner António Guterres," the Secretary-General told hundreds of staff members gathered in the agency's cavernous headquarters atrium. "UNHCR is one of the very important agencies who really carry out field-based, operational activities to uphold the values, ideals and goals of the United Nations."

He said UNHCR's efforts to protect and assist tens of millions of refugees, internally displaced, stateless people and others worldwide "is something to be highly commended and highly appreciated."

"I know how difficult and sometimes how dangerous your work has become," Ban said. "We have seen several cases recently. Unfortunately, there have been kidnappings, hijackings and some have lost their lives."

Pressing the Flesh: The Secretary-General meets UNHCR staff after his address.

The Secretary-General said UNHCR's leadership and action in so many world hotspots was of critical importance to the United Nations and the entire international community. He also expressed support for the agency's efforts to preserve the institution of asylum for those in need of international refugee protection in a world of increasing migratory movements.

Commenting on UNHCR's continuing reform process, the Secretary-General said change, although sometimes painful, was a requirement in this era.

"I highly respect what High Commissioner Guterres has been carrying out," he said. "I sincerely hope that the senior advisers of other funds and programmes and agencies will follow and emulate what you have done."