UN refugee chief warns of world’s inability to restore peace
UNITED NATIONS – The growing inability of the international community to bring peace to countries like Yemen, Libya and Ethiopia is forcing humanitarian and refugee organizations to increasingly work in conflicts they fail to be resolved despite the expectations of many people caught up in these crises, warned the UN refugee chief on Tuesday.
Filippo Grandi reminded the UN Security Council that in the absence of political solutions to conflicts – “and these political solutions seem increasingly rare and remote” – the consequences on the people caught in these clashes violent “continue to get more and more serious.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said his office and other organizations are caring for an estimated 84 million refugees who have fled across borders and internally displaced people, trying to provide humanitarian support, shelter and security.
Grandi spoke with the UN council and correspondents in Geneva, where donors on Tuesday pledged a record high of more than $ 1 billion to support UNHCR’s work in 2022. Although he welcomed Of their crucial support, Grandi said the commitments will not be enough to support the growing challenges the agency anticipates next year, driven largely by conflict, climate change and COVID-19.
The high commissioner said UNHCR is appealing for nearly $ 9 billion to cover operations in 136 countries and territories next year. Almost half of the money is earmarked for emergencies to help a record number of forcibly displaced people, especially in the Middle East and Africa, as well as millions who have fled their homes in places like the Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Venezuela and beyond, he said.
When asked if he sees hope for the millions of refugees and displaced people in 2022, Grandi said “I see glimmers of hope everywhere – if certain things are done”.
“The question is will these things be done?” He asked. “Will states cooperate more in trying to solve these problems?” Will additional resources be allocated to responses? Will the neutrality and security of humanitarian operations be guaranteed?
“I am not very optimistic about progress on these issues, especially on cooperation and the search for solutions,” he said.
Grandi said that if it took “excruciating negotiations” in the Security Council to secure approval to continue the delivery of humanitarian aid through a single point of entry from Turkey to Syria, “then we are struggling, so we can’t really aim to move forward. “
“So yes, I think the outlook, unfortunately, is rather bleak in terms of the size of the problem and the complexity of the causes,” he said.
Grandi said UNHCR works in highly politicized situations and increasingly has to deal with “de facto authorities” who are not internationally recognized but control areas in many countries where it operates because people need help. These situations are very often complicated by political difficulties, sanctions and other restrictions on dialogue and engagement that worsen the delivery of humanitarian needs, he said.
Grandi said he was often warned by countries that UNHCR should not politicize humanitarian action, but “I continue to remind states that if anyone politicizes humanitarian action, it is states, not states. United Nations as an agency, not UNHCR for sure. “
Nonetheless, he said, UNHCR is accused by all parties in Ethiopia, for example, of supporting the other party which he says is not safe for its staff or conducive to effective humanitarian action.
“We are operating in a context in which there is more burden, the expectation that humanitarian actors can solve the problems, when in reality the space is reduced even for us to save lives,” he said. -he declares.
Grandi said he had just returned from a tour of Mexico and northern Central America where he saw “the incredible complexity of the causes of displacement” – conflict, human rights violations, gang violence criminals, poverty, inequality, climate change and an inadequate response. by states.
He said the complexity of the causes in Central America, the Sahel region of Africa and elsewhere lead to “increasingly complicated forced displacement”.
Grandi said his message to the Security Council was to focus on one of the causes – the conflict – because if progress can be made towards stability, then perhaps “the vicious circle” leading to the displacement of millions. people can be unblocked.
He also called on the council to provide “the widest margin of humanitarian exception” to UN sanctions against the new Afghan Taliban leadership in order to help the 23 million Afghans facing extreme levels of hunger and death. other humanitarian challenges.
Grandi warned that a widespread implosion of the Afghan economy would almost inevitably trigger a much larger exodus of Afghans in search of a better life in neighboring countries and beyond.
“This is something that can still be avoided at this point, but it requires faster action” to ensure that the economy works, including the flow of money and services, he said. this with its leaders.