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Norwegian Statement on Standing Committee's overview of global operations and Africa

Last updated: 07.03.2014 // By Counselor Cathrine Andersen, UNHCR 59th Standing Committee 4-6 march 2014

First Norway would like to thank Assistant High Commissioner for operations for her introduction. We thank UNHCR for the efforts to provide assistance and protection or people in need. Protection is at the core of the mandate and we appreciate the underlining of this as guiding the operations. We welcome the new corporate approach to solutions. We support the efforts made to develop the refugee coordination model, to make the most use of resources and partnership while preserving the accountability and responsibilities that we as state parties to the 1951 Convention and ExCom members have entrusted the High Commissioner with. We see the closer relationship with development partners both in emergency and protracted situations as positive and nessecary. We also acknowledge issues arising from integrated missions and will work with you and others to preserve the space for principled humanitarian actors and action.

The scale and number of emergencies and protracted crisis that UNHCR is responding to is overwhelming, the human suffering immense. We commend the efforts and impact of UNHCR under sometimes very dangerous circumstances, and the generosity of the host countries that are often facing both protracted and emergency refugee-situations.

Thank you to the director of the bureau for Africa for the overview of the operations in Africa, and his stern warning about the conflicts, suffering and crimes unfolding.

We would like to comment on a few specific situations

The current political environment is not favorable towards Somali refugees residing in Kenya. At the same time in many areas in Somalia the conditions are still not conducive for safe return. This situation clearly poses a challenge for UNHCR both in implementing the tripartite agreement for return of Somalis and in providing the necessary protection inside Kenya.

In this context, it is vital that UNHCR protects and speak out for those who risk human rights violations, both in Kenya and inside Somali. At the same time, there is a strong need to invest in those areas which are safe for return and make sure that opportunities for safe return are not missed. Investing in such areas by way of safety and livelihood opportunities is a task that no doubt lies with the international community and not with UNHCR alone. Durable solutions in Somalia require approaches that go beyond the humanitarian community. Development actors are needed as well.

In this context it is also vital that UNHCR in Somalia and Kenya improves their coordination and cooperation. This applies as well to the messages regarding logistic in the designated areas of Kismayo/Baidoa and Luuq.

Another important issue is capacity building of the Somali government, being part of the tripartite agreement and having great responsibility for a safe andsuccessful return of its own citizens

Kenya is not only host to many Somalis, but many other refugees as well, especially in the Kakuma camp. One particular concern in Kakuma, which partly also applies to Dadaad, is the delivery of food. Norway believes that more could be done to address food insecurity in a more sustainable manner, i. a. by cash or voucher programmes. This idea should be given serious consideration, not only by WFP and UNHCR, but also by donors and Kenya as host country.

Turning to South Sudan
The civil war in South Sudan has had tragic humanitarian consequences. In addition to the death toll and casualties, it has rendered vulnerable people even more vulnerable, exposing innocent people to violence, hunger and diseases.

The more than 700 000 newly displaced IDPs and almost 150 000 refugees come on the top of a situation that was extremely fragile. In this situations, which qualifies as a L3 situation, UNHCR need to make some very difficult decisions related to access and security of own staff. Norway is particularly worried about the fate of the refugees in Yida og Maban housing refugees from South Kordofan og the Blue Nile.

Securing humanitarian access is absolutely crucial and the responsibility of the Government. The UNHCR must remain clear in its messaging regarding the absolute necessity of a cessation of hostilities and the securing of humanitarian access.

A growing concern to Norway is related to human resources and capacity. Does UNHCR have the necessary resources? Furthermore, does UNHCR have a strategic intervention plan, and is it possible to reach the majority of IDPs who are outside UN-camps/sites?

· UNHCR has the lead in the Protection cluster and receives praise for its work by partners. Are there any plans to dedicate staff so as to further strengthen this work which is so crucial in handling the current situation?

Finally a few words on ERITREA
One particular situation which is of growing concern to Norway, but still largely unnoticed is the continued and even growing outflow of Eritreans from Eritrea. The humanitarian consequences of a deteriorating situation would be disastrous. Norway would therefor like to know if and how the UNHCR is prepared to react to such a situation.

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