Category: UNHCR

UN chief condemns terrorist blasts near Kabul airport in Afghanistan.

UN chief António Guterres condemned on Thursday the terror attacks around Kabul airport in Afghanistan and expressed his support for both the injured and the families of those who have been killed. 

“He condemns this terrorist attack which killed and injured a number of civilians… He stands in solidarity and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured”, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists.

Mr. Dujarric underscored that it was the responsibility of the de-facto authorities to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including the airport.

According to media reports, suspected suicide bombers struck the Kabul airport gates with at least two explosions, leaving at least 13 people dead, including children.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, also reacted to the terrorist attacks.

“Today’s horrible bomb attack in Kabul, in addition to everything else, should make us all even more determined not to leave the Afghan people alone”, he said on his official twitter account.

Grandi added that now is the time to do more for Afghans at risk and in need, and for those who are displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries, according UN News.

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United Nations: ‘Widespread and systematic’ violence linked to clashes over gold in DR Congo.

Rival armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are carrying out horrific sexual attacks against women and girls, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned on Friday.

The alert was prompted by what UNHCR has called “widespread and systematic” sexual abuse in Tanganyika province, where thousands of people have been internally displaced this year, often many times.

“Some women and girls have been abducted and used as sex slaves by armed group members”, spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told journalists in Geneva.

‘Horrific violence’

The UNHCR spokesperson explained that in just the past two weeks, humanitarian partners in the Kongolo and Mbulula health zones, have recorded 243 incidents of rape, 48 of which involved minors, in 12 different villages.

Noting that the actual figures are thought to be even higher, as reporting of gender-based violence remains taboo in most communities, she said that amounted to an average of 17 reported attacks per day.

“Our staff have heard horrific testimonies of extreme violence”.

In addition to the huge physical and psychological trauma from being raped, survivors of sexual violence can face stigma and possible exclusion from their families.  

While the UN agency remains committed to helping the survivors, ongoing violence and the need to travel long distances for care at medical centres are hampering its work.

To protect civilians, especially women and girls, UNHCR is calling on the authorities to urgently scale up security in the so-called “triangle of death” – an area bordering several localities between Tanganyika, Maniema, and South Kivu Provinces.

The move would also allow humanitarian access as well as for investigations to be launched and perpetrators to be brought to justice.

“Humanitarian and protection needs are growing and UNHCR is seeking further financial support”, Ms. Mantoo said, informing the journalists that only 36 per cent of the $205 million required for DRC operation has been received, according UN News.

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United Nations: Cornerstone treaty of refugee protection turns 70.

It has never been more urgent to recommit to the spirit and fundamental principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the UN refugee agency said on Wednesday as it marked the 70th anniversary of the key international treaty. 

“The Convention continues to protect the rights of refugees across the world,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Thanks to the Convention, millions of lives have been saved.” 

As relevant now as in 1951 

Mr. Grandi expressed alarm over recent attempts by some Governments to disregard or circumvent the Convention’s principles, from expulsions and pushbacks of refugees and asylum seekers at land and sea borders to proposals for their forcibly transfer to third States for processing without proper protection safeguards.   

He stressed the need for the international community to uphold the key principles of refugee protection as laid out in the Convention, including the right of those fleeing persecution not to be returned to the path of harm or danger. 

Speaking 70 years to the day after the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was presented to States for signing,  the High Commissioner said the treaty was a crucial component of international human rights law and remains as relevant now as it was when it was drafted and agreed.  

“The language of the Convention is clear as to the rights of refugees and remains applicable in the context of contemporary and unprecedented challenges and emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic”, underscored Mr. Grandi. 

The 1951 Refugee Convention was born following the aftermath of the Second World War.  

On 14 December 1950, the UN published the statute, and on July 1951 representatives of 26 States met in Geneva to finalize the text of the treaty.  

The Convention and the 1967 Protocol, which broadened the scope of those in need of international protection, define who is a refugee and the kind of protection, assistance and rights they are entitled to.  

They remain the cornerstone of refugee protection today and have inspired numerous regional treaties and laws, such as the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention in Africa, the 1984 Cartagena Declaration in Latin America, and the European Union’s Common European Asylum System.  

The principles of the Convention were reaffirmed in December 2018 by the Global Compact on Refugees, a blueprint for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing.  

Both recognize that a sustainable solution to refugee situations cannot be achieved without international cooperation. 

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCRhas called on all States to adopt principles of refugee law, including the 1951 Convention, by enacting legislation and establishing institutions, policies and practices reflecting its provisions.  

It also encourages countries that are not contracting States to accede to the Convention – as the 2018 signatory South Sudan continues to do.  

The 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention comes only a few months after UNHCR itself marked seven decades as the world’s mandated organization for the protection of those forcibly displaced according UN News.

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