Posts Tagged ‘United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’

Highly awarded Sadako Ogata – former UN refugee chief – dies at 92

October 29, 2019

Sadako Ogata the first woman to head the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has died at the age of 92 on 22 October 2019. I served under her for many years and have the greatest admiration for her. Sadako Ogata worked on some of the largest crises of the decade during her time in service from 1991 to 2000, including the Kurdish refugees fleeing from Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, the Balkans War and the Great Lakes region of Africa. Before joining the UN, she was an academic – serving as dean of the faculty of foreign studies at Sophia University in Tokyo in 1989, where she had been a professor since 1980. She was well respected by UN staff and world leaders alike, and was described by her colleagues as a “five-foot giant” for her formidable negotiating skills and ability to confront hostile factions. From 2003 to 2012, Ogata was the head of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, overseeing efforts to provide assistance to those in developing countries.

Back in Japan, she also criticised her country’s low acceptance of refugees. “Japan has to set up a situation to welcome people… those who are in need, in serious need… I think we should be open to bringing them in,” she said in a Reuters interview in 2015. “[To say] Japan does not have resources, that’s nonsense.

She rightly received a lot of recognition while alive, including:

1994   Franklin Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award

1994   Prize for Freedom (Liberal Int’l)

1994   International Human Rights Law Group Award

1995   Liberty Medal

1995   Freedom Award (refugees)

1997   Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership

2001   Indira Gandhi Prize

2015   In Pursuit of Peace Awards.

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A good appointment at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

August 9, 2019

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On 8 August 2019,  Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that Austrialian Gillian Triggs [@GillianTriggs] has been appointed Assistant High Commissioner for refugee protection. He states that she will bring to #UNHCR substantial legal expertise, knowledge and experience of refugee issues and a passion for human rights. From the single blog post I have on her that seems indeed very likely: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/06/16/the-importance-of-independent-national-human-rights-bodies-illustrated-in-australia/

Filippo Grandi in Security Council denounces ‘toxic language of politics’ aimed at refugees, migrants

April 10, 2019

Dissecting the term “refugee crisis” itself, Mr. Grandi asked the Security Council to consider to whom, exactly, that applied: “It is a crisis for a mother with her children fleeing gang violence; it is a crisis for a teenager who wants to flee from war, human rights violations, forced conscription; it is crisis for governments in countries with few resources that, every day, open their borders to thousands. For them, it is a crisis.

UN Photo/Evan Schneider. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, briefs the Security Council. (9 April 2019)

But it is wrong, he continued, to portray the situation as an unmanageable global crisis: with political will and improved responses, as enshrined by the Global Compact for Refugees, adopted last December, it can be addressed, and the Security Council has a critical role to play, particularly in terms of solving peace and security crises, supporting countries that are hosting refugees, and working to remove obstacles to solutions.

Conflicts, Mr. Grandi pointed out, are the main drivers of refugee flows: of the nearly 70 million people that are displaced, most are escaping deadly fighting. However, from the point of view of the UN High Commission for Refugees, approaches to peace-building are fragmented; addressing the symptoms, rather than the causes.

..[he goes into more detail on the Libyan situation]…

The UN refugee chief went on to exhort the Security council to step up support for the developing countries that host 85 per cent of the world’s refugees, to avoid leaving governments politically exposed, and refugees destitute. With regards to the return of refugees and migrants to their countries of origin, Mr. Grandi countered the misconception that UNHCR blocks returns: refugees have both a right to return, and also a right to not return, he said, in the absence of security and basic support. The informed choice of refugees must be respected, and returns must be dignified.

Mr. Grandi concluded by returning to the consequences of the toxic language surrounding refugees and migration, citing the example of the recent mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, which left 49 dead. The response of the New Zealand Government should, he said, be seen as an good example of effective leadership and how to respond to such toxicity, in a firm and organized manner, restating solidarity with refugees, and reaffirming the principle that our societies cannot be truly prosperous, stable and peaceful, if they do not include everyone.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/04/1036391

Angelina Jolie gives 2017 Sergio Vieira de Mello lecture on 15 March 2017

February 27, 2017

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The Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation announces that the UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, is to give the 2017 Sergio Vieira de Mello lecture. She has spent fifteen years advocating on refugees’ behalf.

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The lecture is organised by the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation and the Graduate Institute, to honour the memory of Sergio. The event is hosted by the United Nations Office at Geneva. Wednesday 15 March 2017, 18:30 – 20:00
Assembly Hall, Geneva.

Registration for this event is now closed.

For earlier post on Angelina Jolie see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/angelina-jolie/

Greek Volunteers share UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award 2016

September 6, 2016

Today, 6 September, UNHCR announced that the Hellenic Rescue Team and Efi Latsoudi of “PIKPA village” on Lesvos are the joint winners of  the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award. Read why:.. Read the rest of this entry »

UNHCR extends Nansen Refugee Award nominations until 25 April 2016

April 18, 2016

The UN Refugee Agency is inviting further nominations for the Nansen Refugee Award 2016 until 25 April 2016. For more information on this humanitarian award for an individual or group who has gone beyond the call of duty to assist refugees, internally displaced or stateless persons, see: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/nansen-medal.

Nominations made during this additional period will join nominations from the previous round which closed on 8 February 2016. The winner will be announced in September 2016. Anyone can submit a candidate for the Nansen Refugee Award at www.unhcr.org/nansen.

Source: UNHCR – UNHCR reopens Nansen Refugee Award nominations for 2016

for last year see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/nansen-refugee-award-to-afghan-refugee-teacher/

Annual Sergio Vieira de Mello debate on 7 March 2016

February 17, 2016

The Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation, dedicated to promoting dialogue for the peaceful resolution of conflict, organizes its annual debate on 7 March 2016, from 18h30 to 20h00, together with the Graduate Institute of Geneva. The subject is: “Mass migration: how can we ensure people’s safety and dignity?“. I takes place in the Auditorium Ivan Pictet, Maison de la Paix, Geneva. The speakers are:

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Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross

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Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/filippo-grandi-new-united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees/ Read the rest of this entry »

Thailand returns recognized refugees to China (and falsely claims they did not know about their status)

December 8, 2015

Anneliese Mcauliffe in Al Jazeera on 6 December 2015 reported that two Chinese human rights defenders recognised as UN refugees were forcibly deported from Thailand to China last month and have appeared on Chinese state-run television and confessed to human-trafficking offenses. CCTV reported that Jiang Yefei was arrested for “assisting others to illegally cross the national border”, and Dong Guangping was charged with using a trafficking network to flee China while awaiting trial on sedition charges. It was the first time the two men were seen since being taken from a detention centre in the Thai capital Bangkok in November and deported to China.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filippo Grandi new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

November 12, 2015

On 11 November 2015 the Secretary-General of the United Nations, following consultations with the regional groups, announced that Filippo Grandi of Italy is to be the new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). filippo_portrait_lng

This is good news for the organization and the millions of refugees as Filippo brings enormous humanitarian experience with him: He was Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from 2010 to 2014 and it’s Deputy Commissioner-General from 2005 until 2010.  He served as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and has a long-standing career with UNHCR (1988-2004), notably as Chief of Mission in Afghanistan and Chief of Staff in the High Commissioner’s Executive Office.  His vast field experience includes various positions in Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Iraq, having also led emergency operations in Kenya, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen.

Filippo Grandi was born in Milan in 1957. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the State Universities of Venice and Milan, and from the Gregorian University in Rome.

Source: Secretary-General Nominates Filippo Grandi of Italy United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases

UNHCR launches 2015 World Refugee Day with celebrity support

June 17, 2015

For World Refugee Day 2015 (20 June) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] has released several films featuring celebrity supporters that tell the human side of the refugee plight. This years’ campaign aims to bring the public closer to the story, showing refugees as ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances. World Refugee Day 2015 is marked against a backdrop of multiple conflicts, growing numbers of forcibly displaced people and a rising tide of intolerance and xenophobia in many parts of the world.

The films feature UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and best-selling author, Khaled Hosseini, photographer and supermodel Helena Christensen, singer/songwriter Maher Zain and actor Jung Woo-Sung . The films were recorded during recent field visits. Each supporter introduces an individual refugee and their story. These films and other refugee stories can be found on UNHCR’s Campaign website: www.refugeeday.org.

UNHCR offices in some 120 countries are planning various events including the film première of Salam Neighbor in Washington D.C.

 

The site www.refugeeday.org features stories from refugees who describe in their own words their own passions and interests; cooking, music, poetry, or sports. Through their testimonials UNHCR aims to show that these are ordinary people living through extraordinary times.

via UNHCR – UNHCR launches its 2015 World Refugee Day Campaign.