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Filippo Grandi for finding political solutions to conflicts
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has urged international leaders to find political solutions to the world’s conflicts if the swelling numbers of forcibly displaced people are ever to return home.
In a speech to the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday, Grandi said a succession of major new crises had caused massive displacement across virtually all regions of the globe.
In particular, security and the establishment of human rights and the rule of law will be essential to the return of Rohingya refugees to Rakhine State in Myanmar. “Progress on citizenship for the stateless Rohingyas is absolutely crucial, as will be community reconciliation, and investment in inclusive development benefiting all communities,” added Grandi.
“The number of people forcibly displaced worldwide is now approaching 66 million – up from 42 million in 2009,” he said. “This includes 17.2 million refugees under UNHCR’s responsibility – a 70 percent increase since then.”
The UNHCR chief added: “Securing solutions for the millions of people uprooted around the world, and avoiding a repeat of the massive outflows that have taken place over recent years, ultimately rests on political solutions.”
Grandi cited several ongoing crises, including the “cataclysmic conflict” in Syria and the violence in Iraq, which together accounted for a quarter of all those forcibly displaced.
But new crises had developed, he said, with many unfolding “in ungoverned spaces, driven by varying combinations of poverty and underdevelopment, environmental degradation, inequality and persecution.”
At the same time, situations that appeared to have stabilised, such as those in Burundi, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, had been affected by new crises triggering new refugee outflows; while protracted situations – as in Afghanistan and Somalia – remained entrenched, according to a message received from New York.
Grandi outlined several action points for members of the Security Council. First, they needed to support preventative measures “to address the causes of conflict and avoid deepening displacement crises”.
He also praised the vital work of UN peacekeepers in enabling humanitarian work, saying that humanitarian actors and peacekeepers should draw on their diverse strengths to help protect civilians affected by conflict, while at the same time preserving the neutral, impartial character of humanitarian action.
Thirdly, the international community needed to build on its work fighting people trafficking and the “horrific abuses perpetrated by traffickers”, the UNHCR head declared.
Although the Refugee Agency was working on the ground to assist the victims of people trafficking and support those in need of international protection, Grandi said resolute action was required “to tackle the horrific abuses perpetrated by traffickers and identify and prosecute them.”
Without the restoration of peace and security, Grandi said, it would be impossible for refugees and other displaced persons to return home. “Only 500,000 refugees worldwide returned home last year. And very few displacement situations in the last decade have been brought to a definitive conclusion,” he said.
Lastly, Grandi said it was vital to sustain the protection of displaced people while solutions to conflict were pursued, both within affected countries as they work towards greater stability, and in host communities trying to support large numbers of refugees.
Weaknesses in international solidarity were also eroding refugee protection, he added.