Norway aid praised

UN refugee commission notes Norway’s financial and peace-making contributions

Marit Fosse
Geneva, Switzerland

World Refugee Day

Photo: Marit Fosse
High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

In a press conference on June 17, just ahead of World Refugee Day, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR), Filippo Grandi, presented the organization’s annual global trends report and praised Norway’s assistance to refugees.

He said, “Norway is not a big country, but a wealthy country and a very generous country, which provided on average $100 million to my organization the last couple of years. It provided funding for other organizations, including their own organization, the Norwegian Refugee Council—one of the biggest NGOs in this sphere.”

Grandi pointed out that Norway gives a lot of “flexible” money, not just funds tied to a special situation or program. This flexible money is invaluable because it can be used wherever the need is greatest at the time. The responses to some of the crises are very underfunded, and it’s the flexible money that saves the HCR and gives it a chance to provide assistance to these vulnerable persons.

Norway is also attentive to political aspects of the crisis and has distinguished itself by trying to bring together parties in conflict to find a solution, in South Sudan and Venezuela, for example.

Norway also has a resettlement program. It takes refugees from countries like Lebanon, Kenya, and Pakistan that have a lot of refugees or especially vulnerable refugees, and arranges for them to be resettled in a stable county. Such a sign of solidary is sorely lacking today.

This year’s global trends report found that 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced at the close of 2018, the highest number in the organization’s almost 70-year history. This is twice as many people as 20 years ago, and 2.3 million more than the previous year.

Worryingly, this global figure is probably low. The crisis in Venezuela, in particular, is still only partly reflected in the total.

The increased global figure gives further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people around the world needing safety from war, conflict, and persecution, warned Grandi.

He stressed that while language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, not all is bleak. He noted an “outpouring of generosity and solidarity,” especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees.

“We are also seeing unprecedented engagement by new actors including development actors, private businesses, and individuals, which not only reflects but also delivers the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees,” he said.

“We must … redouble our solidarity with the many thousands of innocent people who are forced to flee their homes each day.”

On Dec. 4, 2000, the UN General Assembly in Resolution 55/76 decided that June 20 would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. In this resolution, the General Assembly noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees.

 

To learn more about World Refugee Day, visit: www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday.

This article originally appeared in the July 12, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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