70th Session of the General Assembly Agenda Item 65: Report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Questions Relating to Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons and Humanitarian Questions

Published Date: 
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Ashraf El Nour, Permanent Observer to the United Nations




Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We live in a time of unprecedented mobility and are experiencing the highest number of refugees and forced migration since the Second World War. The human mobility dimension of humanitarian crises is becoming more acute every year. The most tragic aspect of forced migration is the increasing number of deaths at sea and along other perilous migratory routes.  Families of the missing also suffer often for long periods.

At the same time, we have seen a number of important multilateral processes on development and humanitarian affairs, including the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  In 2016 we will gather for the first World Humanitarian Summit, where we will have a unique chance to shape a framework for humanitarian response that is “fit for purpose”.

In this regard, cooperation between IOM and UNHCR is more relevant than ever. Alongside governments and our various humanitarian partners, our two agencies work tirelessly to assist and protect the most vulnerable individuals. IOM has considerably expanded the reach and scope of its humanitarian interventions in recent years, including in response to refugee crises. This has translated into deeper engagement of IOM in support of UNHCR in such regions as the Middle East, as well as across West, Central and East Africa, in response to the refugee dimensions of the crises in Syria, South Sudan and the CAR, to name a few.  IOM very much welcomes the announcements made by governments on resettlement figures in the last few weeks with response to the Syria crisis, though resettlement will always be an option only for a small proportion of refugees.

Mr. Chair,

In our increasingly mobile world, IOM and UNHCR are being called upon to adapt and respond to new forms of human mobility, and to work together on mixed migratory flows. These flows raise complex challenges for the international community, including policy and operational issues as diverse as border management, asylum and protection, and smuggling and trafficking. One-dimensional solutions are not likely to have a durable impact, however effective they may be at addressing one or many pressing aspects of this issue.  In response to the external displacement generated by the Yemen crisis, IOM and UNHCR recently supported the formulation and launch of a regional response plan, which for the first time includes the situation of migrants, in addition to that of refugee populations. With respect to the migration flows directed towards Europe and the Mediterranean, IOM’s Director General and the High Commissioner for Refugees recently committed to working towards joint approaches and planning, at all points along the migration routes. These examples illustrate the relevance of, and efforts towards, ever closer coordination between IOM and UNHCR in responding to the mobility dimensions of crises, and provide a strong precedent for the future of the essential partnership between the two organizations.

In conclusion, the ongoing partnership and collaboration between UNHCR and IOM is an important example of how the international community has come together to address issues related to refugees, returnees and displaced people. IOM would like to also acknowledge the High-Commissioner's extraordinary dedication to partnership with IOM during his tenure and we express our gratitude and respect as he completes his term.

Thank you.