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Call for better protection of refugee children

Last updated: 06.10.2011 // In a statement under the International Protection debate at the 62nd session of UNHCR's Executive Committee on October 5, 2011, Norway called for better protection of unaccompanied refugee children. It was announced that the Norwegian government will present a White Paper regarding unaccompanied and separated children later this year.

Also highlighted was Norway’s response to UNHCR’s Libya appeal by resettling a total of 320 refugees, out of which 250 places where made available by an additional quota approved by the Norwegian Parliament. Norway will shortly resettle an additional number of refugees from the ex-Libya caseload.

Read Norway’s full statement below.


Mr. Chairman,

At the outset I would like to thank UNHCR  for the Note on International Protection as well as the AHC for her, as always, very comprehensive introduction to this item.

Norway strongly and continuously supports the 1951 Convention as the cornerstone in international refugee protection. This year’s Note on Protection clearly shows that the Convention is as relevant and necessary as ever, adapting to unforseen situations and new protection challenges

In 2010 Norway implemented a new and broader refugee definition, encompassing both those eligible for refugee status under the 1951 Convention and others in need of international protections owing to a real risk of being subject to capital punishment or other serious harm arising from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. The main objective was to reduce the number of unfounded asylum claims at the same time as international protection is afforded to those at risk of persecution.  To our mind, this is the best way of ensuring the long term viability of the asylum institute.

Mr. Chairman,

Norway continues to share UNHCR’s concern regarding the movement of unaccompanied and separated children across borders. We therefore appreciate the office’s continued efforts aimed at addressing this in a comprehensive manner taking due account of the specific protection needs through the various stages of displacement.  My government will later this year present a White Paper regarding unaccompanied and separated children, as well as children moving with their parents.

Mr. Chairman,

Protracted refugee situations remains a key challenge. We therefore commend the High Commissioner’s continued efforts and engagement in this regard. Comprehensive strategies involving voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration stand at the core of such efforts.

Norway currently contributes to such comprehensive strategies in Eastern Sudan where the Transitional Solutions Initiative is tested out. We are also engaged in strategic use of resettlement in Iran, now under the chairmanship of Sweden.

As outlined both in the note on protection and in the High Commissioner’s opening statement yesterday, we have witnessed a number of new emergencies this year, among them the uprising in Libya, leading to refugees residing in Libya escaping to neighbouring countries. Norway responded to UNHCR’s appeal by resettling a total of  310 refugees, out of which 250 places where made available by an additional quota approved by the Norwegian Parliament. Now, due to unforeseen obstacles elsewhere, Norway will shortly resettle an additional number of refugees from  the ex-Libya caseload.

Mr Chairman,

Before concluding, allow me to briefly mention three additional concerns of the Norwegian government.

The first is the growing number of IDPs worldwide. Norway will address their cause by leading negotiations on this year’s IDP resolution in the 3 Committee of the General Assembly. We look forward to working with member states on this important matter. On the same note we urge African states to ratify the Kampala convention and to engage in a broader debate on the protection on IDPs

The second point is the vulnerability of  women and girls and the need to look at protection with a gender lense. We have witnessed too many cases of GBV both in the Somali and Libyan context recently and urge UNHCR and other agencies to intensify efforts to prevent this.

The third point is climate change and displacement. Earlier this year Norway convened the Nansen Conference on Climate change and Displacement in the 21st century. The conference aimed at generate awareness and knowledge around these issues and it produced the so called Nansen principles in order to guide responses both on prevention, mitigation, and protection.  I invite you all to consult the Chair’s Summary from the conference available at;  www.nansenconference.no

Thank you.


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