First of all let me thank the High Commissioner for his briefing. Sadly, the high numbers, and the grave situations he has highlighted are not new to us. But that does not make them any less serious.
I take note of his statement that many of the refugees are living in developing countries. In too many countries and regions, people have to leave everything behind to escape from conflict and natural disasters.
Often becoming internally displaced, or seeking refuge in neighboring countries - adding strain to already fragile communities. With many finding shelter in the refugee camps managed by the UN and others. While others end up in dangerous situations, at the mercy of ruthless smugglers, or become unwilling pieces in international power politics.
On top of this, the pandemic has made the situation for the most vulnerable even worse.
And let me be clear. We must all help. And I believe we should help those who are in the most vulnerable situations first. For Norway this means refugees and internally displaced persons, living in camps and settlements.
But we know that helping and responding to humanitarian needs will not in itself tackle the root-causes of displacement. We need political will.
There is a new momentum created by the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement. Let us use this momentum to strengthen our efforts to find solutions to internal displacement.
I believe we as an international community must do three things to address displacement:
First of all, we must focus on prevention. Too often we act too late, with devastating effects for people and communities. We must aim our efforts at preventing situations that force people to flee. This means focusing on armed conflict, climate change and poverty.
Second, we must strengthen the links between our humanitarian, development, peacebuilding, and human rights work. For our part, this is reflected in Norway’s strong commitment to the principles of the nexus.
This approach is now being put to the test in Afghanistan. Humanitarian and development actors need to work closely together to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. If we fail, 20 years of development gains are at risk.
And third, we must recognize that there are complex links between climate change, natural disasters, vulnerability, and displacement. We need better, more reliable, information and data on climate and security risks.
The UN Refugee Agency’s work in the Sahel is an encouraging example of how to address these links.
We know that the impacts of modern warfare on the civilian population are devastating. The risk is particularly high when armed conflicts take place in densely populated areas.
All parties to conflict must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. They must ensure the protection of civilians. Strengthening the protection of civilians will reduce forced displacement. And I urge everyone to recognise the connection between these two.
Norway is a strong supporter of the UN Refugee Agency and the tremendous work they do for the most vulnerable among us. They can count on our continued support for their work to improve the situation for those who are forced to flee. And support for host communities.
The challenges are enormous. But we have no other option than continuing to work better together. To prevent, protect, and support.