Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural)

Note: Following is a partial summary of statements made today in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). A complete summary will be available later as Press Release GA/SHC/4278.

LACEY WHITE MORISON (United States), stressed her country’s strong partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), pointing to her country’s $1.7 billion contribution to the Office in 2019 and underscoring the United States commitment to burden‑sharing.  She welcomed the holding of the Geneva Global Refugee Forum in December.  Calling for optimal use of resources, she urged UNHCR to enhance its culture of accountability, ensuring efficiency and transparency, and demonstrating strong, competent leadership in the field.

NATHALIA SÁNCHEZ GARCÍA (Colombia) said the High Commissioner’s report observes that the numbers of displaced persons in Colombia are higher than in other countries facing such crises and pointed out that this observation “lacks temporal context”.  Colombia is committed to finding lasting solutions to the crisis.  According to the 2019 report, her country hosts 34 per cent of Venezuelan migrants who have left their country.  Countries in the region affected by the crisis have come together to find solutions.  She expressed concern that the region response programme only received a fraction of the funds needed — only $176 million so far — and stressed that more funds are imperative.

NELLY BANAKEN ELEL (Cameroon) said that to help refugees and displaced persons in her country, the Government launched a biometric programme and enhanced security in camps and humanitarian centres.  The risk of statelessness must be prevented.  A centre for humanitarian assistance has been opened, she said.  Since the signing of the Tripartite Agreement for the Voluntary Repatriation of Nigerian refugees living in Cameroon, agreed in Dakar in June, voluntary returns have begun, and camps have since been dismantled.  Turning to the situation of internally displaced persons, she said Cameroon has launched an emergency plan to aid those displaced by secessionist outrages in the north‑west and south‑west of the country, as well as to help people displaced by natural disasters.  Since June, it has been undertaking follow-up actions with humanitarian partners.

HANNE MELFALD (Norway) said that her country is a strong supporter of the Global Compact and shares the ambition of making the Global Refugee Forum a vehicle for more equitable sharing of burdens and responsibilities.  It is important to take a long‑term perspective that will benefit both refugees and host communities.  The protection of refugees and a comprehensive response to refugee situations will continue to be a priority in Norway’s humanitarian policy, as outlined in the related strategy launched in 2018.  This includes continuing to prioritize education in situations of crisis and conflict.  There is also a need to strengthen the humanitarian response to sexual and gender‑based violence, notably in situations of displacement.

NOUR ALI (Syria) recalled the many actions taken by the Government to facilitate the safe return of refugees, including the establishment of a national committee dedicated to their safe return.  Expressing concern over some countries’ unrealistic portrait of the situation in Syria, targeting Syrian citizens and supporting terrorism, she said UNHCR should promote positive dialogue and cooperation.  She urged the international community to allow for the safe return of Syrian refugees, rather than shed “crocodile tears” for them.

RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) said his country takes its duties towards refugees seriously, describing the major crisis on its northern border resulting from the situation in Venezuela.  Brazil has handled the crisis in an exemplary manner, he said, underscoring the country’s long‑standing solidarity with the people of Venezuela.  Brazil has reacted to the influx of refugees with “open borders and open arms”, imposing no obligation for visas and allowing Venezuelans to enter on expired passports.  Also, Brazil launched the “Operation Welcome” programme, aimed at internal resettlement and providing refugees and migrants with better infrastructure.  The second phase of the operation will include new reception centres and shelters, as well as the establishment of a fund for receiving private international donations.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) said that the efforts of UNHCR are of critical importance, especially amid conflicts that cause new waves of mass displacement in various regions of the world.  In recent years, Georgia has implemented significant reforms to ensure the protection of those who have been forcefully displaced.  The law on international protection, which is in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol, specifies principles and strengthens procedural safeguards at all stages of the asylum procedure.  Georgia cooperates with UNHCR in the context of guaranteeing efficient asylum procedures, as well as socioeconomic assistance to persons of concern.  For 25 years, hundreds of thousands of Georgian citizens have been expelled from Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region and continue to be deprived of their right to return to their homes.  Georgia is continuously prevented from extending protection to this population.

Mr. MOZAFFARPOUR (Iran) said that as the number of refugees under the UNHCR mandate increases, it is more critical than ever for Member States to honour their international obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to share responsibility in hosting and protecting refugees.  A declining trend in durable solutions, especially voluntary repatriation, is a serious concern.  The hospitality of a few countries hosting large numbers of refugees should not serve as an excuse for others to evade fair and equitable burden sharing.  It is neither fair nor acceptable to impose responsibility to protect refugees on a few countries or regions.  It is expected that the Global Refugee Forum will make a real change towards preserving and expanding asylum space not only in a few developing countries but across the globe.

ILARIO SCHETTINO (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said the number of forcibly displaced people continues to increase at an alarming pace and the United Nations should apply a coordinated and comprehensive humanitarian response.  The Global Refugee Forum, to be held in Geneva next month, will offer a unique opportunity to galvanize implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees and to share lessons learned over the last year.  On this occasion, Italy will displace its best practices and commitments on humanitarian corridors, emergency evacuations from Libya and projects such as the local integration of refugees into the labour market of the host country.  All these initiatives are clear testimony to Italy’s commitment to address the causes of mixed migration flows.

MOUSSA DOLLO (Mali) said the refugee crisis, which subjected 70 million people to humanitarian suffering, calls for increased international cooperation.  The Global Compact for Refugees is an important step towards addressing the challenge, to strengthening autonomy of refugees, enabling safe and dignified return, and to help alleviate the burdens of host countries.  Mali is no stranger to such events, he said, since its 2012 crisis resulted in inflows to neighbouring countries.  He welcomed the formation of the High‑Level Panel on internally displaced persons founded on the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as the Kampala Convention.

Ms. ALDAWEESH (Kuwait) stressed the importance of alleviating the suffering of refugees and internally displaced persons around the world.  The Prince of Kuwait has undertaken great efforts in that regard, in close cooperation with UNHCR, she said, reiterating Kuwait’s support for refugees in general and Palestinian refugees in particular.  Since the start of the crisis in Syria, Kuwait has supported the Syrian refugees and contributed to numerous conferences.  To guarantee refugee protection, the driving forces of poverty, conflict and violent extremism must be tackled, she asserted.

Ms. AHMED MUKHTAR (Sudan) said that a number of humanitarian organizations, including HHC Sudan, are addressing the crisis affecting 5 million people in the region.  The mixed nature of the affected group — which includes refugees, illegal migrants, refugees fleeing from camps to towns, and those who are being trafficked — poses a challenge to humanitarian efforts.  Sudan has set up a national commission to combat trafficking in persons in the Horn of Africa.  Voluntary and safe returns have begun under the Tripartite Agreement between Sudan, Chad and UNHCR, which, alongside the improved situation in Darfur and tribal agreements, has been the backdrop for the return of Sudanese refugees.  While rebuilding and development efforts are underway, aid is urgently needed.

MILICA PEJANOVIĆ ƉURIŠIĆ (Montenegro) said her country has provided shelter to a huge number of persons displaced by the conflict in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.  Cooperating with neighbouring countries and international partners, Montenegro has implemented several subprojects through the Regional Housing Programme.  This helped resolve housing issues for displaced persons and internally displaced persons.  Since many of these people remain in Montenegro, the country is creating an environment to integrate them into the society.  In accordance with the Law on Foreigners, activities are undertaken to recognize the status of stateless persons and ensure the rights provided by ratified conventions. During the UNHCR Executive Board High‑Level Segment on Statelessness, Montenegro committed to strengthen capacities at national and local levels to secure access to rights for persons granted stateless status in Montenegro.

ATHIKARN DILOGWATHANA (Thailand) said collective efforts are needed to manage global migration challenges, including for timely aid delivery, addressing international protection gaps and ending statelessness.  By ensuring birth registration and amending relevant legislation, Thailand has granted citizenship to about 10,000 people with status problems.  It has conducted voluntary repatriation of displaced people to neighbouring countries in cooperation with United Nations agencies.  As part of its efforts under the “ending detention of migrant children” policy, the Government completed the Memorandum of Understanding with related partners, followed by robust implementation on the part of migrant children and their mothers or guardians.  Thailand has established a working group to coordinate efforts to implement the Global Compact on Refugees and Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, she added.

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