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Norwegian Statement: Agenda item 4 - General Debate

Statement by State Secretary Mr Tore Hattrem, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Last year saw the highest number of displaced people worldwide since the Second World War. 2015 does not promise to be any better.

On the contrary, the number and scale of the crises is increasing. Many protracted refugee situations have no political solution in sight. New tragedies are constantly developing.

In this time of extraordinary challenges, the Government of Norway would like to express its profound respect for the mandate the UNHCR upholds and protects. The work of UNHCR has never been more acutely relevant. As donors, we need to defend and support your work, and to contribute to solutions by fulfilling our national obligations.

The complexity and the magnitude of today’s migration flows call for coherent strategies and broad alliances. We must also address the underlying causes of these vast movements of people.

Norway finds it timely and important that this year’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges will focus on the root causes of forced displacement. We hope that there will be frank and fruitful discussions on this crucial, yet complex topic.

The migrant flows to Europe brings the unique and vital role of UNHCR as guardian of the asylum institute closer to our own shores. Your report on Europe vividly illustrates the challenges we are facing, not least to ensure adequate reception conditions. The situation demonstrates a need for decisive, collective and generous action.

UNHCR is severely underfunded. The limited resources need to be spent on helping those refugees who are truly in need of international protection. States need to take more responsibility both for determination procedures and for responsible and efficient return systems. 

Norway has offered to host an international donor conference in collaboration with Germany as a way of bringing about progress for Syrian refugees. We hope this conference will bear fruit both by bringing relevant actors together for discussions and by mobilising resources. 

Norway sees the need to strengthen both humanitarian efforts and long-term development assistance. Not least do we need to improve the interlinkages and synergies between them.

Humanitarian action can be planned in a longer term perspective, and development cooperation must build on the investments made in the emergency phases. The education sector is an obvious example. 

The majority of children out of school today are children in conflict areas. Education is a human right for all. Norway believes a larger share of humanitarian budgets should be allocated to education. We will develop our partnership with UNHCR in order to strengthen the focus on education.

Chair,

In appreciation of UNHCR’s important mission and leadership, the Norwegian Government has increased our funding in 2015. We will continue to provide a high level of support also in 2016.

Thank you.