Closing remarks | High-Level Segment of the 65th session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme on Enhancing International Cooperation, Solidarity, Local Capacities and Humanitarian Action for Refugees in Africa, Geneva
Edited transcript of extemporaneous remarks
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I first of all express my very deep gratitude, and the gratitude of all UNHCR staff, for the remarkable commitment by EXCOM member states to our common cause in relation to African refugees and internally displaced people. Of course the statement speaks for itself, I will not repeat what is written there, I will just tell you what most strongly impressed me in this debate.
First, I felt there was a unanimous recognition that displacement problems in Africa have not been receiving enough attention in global media and global political debate, and our common commitment is to make sure that this is put back on the international humanitarian agenda with the priority it needs and deserves.
The second thing that strongly impressed me was how everybody recognized the enormous generosity and solidarity of African countries and African populations, opening borders, opening doors, opening hearts to all those that seek protection because of conflict or persecution. This solidarity is deeply rooted in African culture, but it is also deeply rooted in a very solid legal framework both at the level of African conventions and at the level of national legislations.
I think it was also clear from the interventions from the floor that this solidarity needs to be matched by much stronger international support. Humanitarian support to the refugees and displaced themselves; support to the resilience and community development of host countries and host communities; support to governments that face enormous challenges in coping with the impact of huge refugee populations on their economies and their societies; adequate burden-sharing mechanisms, namely through resettlement but especially support for African-led efforts for prevention and solutions. I believe there was agreement that too many people in Africa suffer as a result of displacement, and that prevention and solutions need to be in the very centre of our common action. This requires African leadership, but also a much stronger involvement of the international community.
Another point that was very clear for me in the debates was the recognition that development partners, agencies and international financial institutions need to do much more. They must come earlier to emergency situations in order to make sure that the funding gap for humanitarian action -given the present context of crises all over the world and in Africa in particular - can be to a certain extent filled by much stronger engagement of development cooperation mechanisms and much earlier action of development cooperation partners.
I do believe that today's statement and the debate we had, have strongly stressed our common commitments to support the most vulnerable of the vulnerable who have suffered so much, namely in the many countries with unresolved conflicts. These people need and deserve a better future of welfare and citizenship.
Thank you very much.