Norway with reaffirmed support for UNHCR’s protection mandate. Emphasise on durable solutions and a call for both international burden sharing and strategic cooperation in this regard. Concern raised over the growing number of unaccompanied and separated children across borders.
61st session of EXCOM – October 2010
Norwegian statement on item 5a – International Protection
As conflict and causes of displacement become ever more complex, so does the nature and scope of UNHCR’s role of providing protection to persons of concern. I would therefore like to reiterate the Norwegian government´s strong support for UNHCR’s protection mandate implemented under increasingly difficult circumstances.
The lack of viable solutions for people of concern is a key challenge facing the Office and the international community. We therefore commend the High Commissioner’s effort to address protracted situations. Comprehensive strategies involving voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration stand at the core of such efforts.
Norway currently contributes to address the protracted situation in the Sudan by resettling Eritrean refugees. We are also heading the Contact Group on Iran which by means of burden sharing and concerted efforts will aim at addressing the long standing situation of Afghan refugees receding in Iran.
On refugees from Bhutan - Norway greatly appreciates the Government of Nepal's support for the resettlement process of this caseload. We applaud UNHCR's efforts to develop programs for the long-term needs of the refugees and their
host communities. The right of refugees to return to Bhutan is an important consideration for Norway, and we strongly urge the Government of Bhutan to accept for repatriation refugee cases of special humanitarian concern.
This year’s note on international protection recalls the risks tens of thousands of people undertake each year on dangerous journeys in search of safety, prosperity or both. It subsequently highlights the need to design mechanisms that are responsive to those seeking international protection, while at the same time recognizing the legitimate interest of states to manage immigration and control the entry, stay and removal of illegal migrants.
We believe this statement goes to the very core of the matter. Our policy is to ensure protection to those in need, and as of January 1st this year we introduced a broader refugee definition in our new immigration Act, including subsidiary protection. Moreover, we believe management of immigration and border control is of vital importance to ensure the longer term viability of the asylum institute.
Norway shares UNHCR’s concern regarding the growing movement of unaccompanied and separated children across borders. Children are particularly vulnerable during their often long journeys in search of safety and/or a better life. Children are also often subject to hardship through human traffickers being sent off as future bread winners for their families. We therefore welcome UNHCR’s efforts aimed at addressing this in comprehensive manner taking due account of the specific protection needs through the different stages of displacement.
An estimated 15.000 unaccompanied or separated children claimed asylum in Europe in 2009. Of these, approximately 2,500 lodged applications in Norway. To avoid pull factors and encouragement to more children to put their lives at risk through hazardous journeys, it is paramount that those who are deemed not to be in need of protection, following an appropriate RSD procedure, are returned in a dignified manner.
In line with UNHCR’s recommendations, Norway considers the best interest of the child in each individual case. No return of children takes place unless they can be reunited with their families, or as a last resort, be provided for in appropriate care-centers in their countries of origin.
In our RSD procedure we routinely look to UNHCR for guidance. We would therefore like to recall the importance of UNHCR’s country specific guidelines and recommendations being of the highest quality and as updated as possible.
Another group increasingly in need of international protection is GLBT individuals. We here welcome UNHCR’s leadership to facilitate learning and sharing of best practices among asylum countries, so as to better cater for the protection needs of this particular group.
Moving now to UNHCR’s engagement for IDPs. While achievements have been made towards strengthening national IDP laws and policies in some countries, in others such frameworks remain inadequate. We therefore encourage the Office to continue efforts to promote strong national normative and policy frameworks on IDPs.
Since the introduction of the cluster approach, a whole new structure has been established for dealing with IDPs in humanitarian response. As we see it, a key challenge a head is to ensure system wide accountability for collective results. We therefore call on HCR to continue effort to mainstream cluster responsibilities of staff into internal accountability systems, including as a part of regular performance appraisals. We also encourage the office to actively contribute towards enhancing system wide accountability through the IASC WG set up for this purpose.
Finally, we would like to recall the recent evaluation of UNHCR’s AGDM strategy. On this note we invite the Office to provide an update on ongoing work to ensure implementation of the recommendations stemming from the exercise.
I thank you,