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UNHCR Executive Committee: UK Statement on Protection

This UK statement was delivered at the UNHCR Executive Committee Meeting on on 5 October 2017.

UNHCR's headquarters are in Geneva
UNHCR's headquarters are in Geneva

The UK welcomes UNHCR’s many and various efforts to provide protection for refugees.

With the numbers of people in need of assistance increasing globally in some of the most complex and difficult environments, it is essential that the most vulnerable and at risk-refugees and IDPs are afforded the protection they so desperately need.

Now more than ever, we look to UNHCR to advocate for the rights of refugees and for their protection, even where it is not easy and where that stance might provoke a negative stance towards the agency. An increasing number of refugees each year depend on UNHCR to voice, and champion, their right to a safe and dignified durable solution. We look to UNHCR for leadership in this area. The UK stands ready to support UNHCR in these efforts.

We very much agree with the assistant High Commissioner on the importance of making a distinction between refugees and migrants, whilst recognising both groups will need access to protection.

We, welcome UNHCR’s extensive global refugee youth consultations and the direct impact these will have on future action and priorities, and would be keen to see a similar level of consultation with refugees in UNHCR’s work more broadly.

The focus on education is important one and positive progress is being made. However, it is not clear how the jump will be made from here to the commitment in the New York Declaration “that all refugee and migrant children are receiving education within a few months of arrival.” This should be a priority consideration in the coming year.

For female refugees, the danger of Sexual and Gender Based Violence cannot be understated and we would urge UNHCR to ensure that this continues to retain a significant focus on UNHCR’s operations. Supporting people with disability and tackling child exploitation are also high priorities for the UK.

The UK is focused on protracted crises. In this regard, we very much welcome the spotlight in this year’s report on the graduation approach to engender sustainable livelihoods. We would like to express our support for the role UNHCR has played in helping Costa Rica to incorporate the graduation approach in its national development plan.

Similarly, we applaud UNHCR for working with ILO on the promotion of employment opportunities. Self-reliance and inclusion will remain a key objective as we face more and bigger protracted conflict situations. Let me also express my government’s deep concern for the more than half a million Rohingya who have been forced to flee their houses.

Finally, let me reiterate our support for UNHCR’s continued work to deliver protection for those most in need. The UK stands ready to work with you on this in the countries where we work together, and at HQ to ensure that refugees are provided with the long-term sustainable solutions they so desperately hope for. The CRRF on the Global Compact will be a crucial element for this- ensuring protection issues that are embedded within it will be vital.

Published 5 October 2017