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Norway statement in General Debate of ExCom 2016

Chair, High Commissioner,

More than 65 million people are displaced across the world, and the numbers are likely to increase. The scale of this crisis requires both immediate responses and durable solutions.

UNHCR plays a key role in this respect. The current processes related to the global compacts are of essential importance.

The Norwegian Government would like to express its gratitude to UNHCR and to the High Commissioner for the important work that you do, as well as our respect for your mandate and the principles you uphold.

There is international consensus that, in order to address forced displacement, we need to strengthen both humanitarian efforts and long-term development assistance.

Norway supports the Solutions Alliance, and we are pleased that UNHCR and the World Bank are working together to find lasting solutions not only for refugees, but also for the internally displaced and for host communities.

We must recognise the important role being played by host countries that have received millions of refugees from neighbouring countries. And it is high time that we scale up our common efforts to assist internally displaced people. A special representative should be appointed as soon as possible.

Norway will continue to shoulder its share of the responsibility, both as a major humanitarian donor to the Syria crisis and elsewhere, and as one of the largest per capita recipients of resettlement refugees.

We have increased our humanitarian budget by more than 50% over the past 3 year. Furthermore, in 2016 we have increased our UNHCR quota to 3120.

European cooperation is essential in this respect. Norway participates in the EU effort to relocate asylum seekers arriving in Greece and Italy. And two Norwegian ships are taking part in the EU’s Frontex operation, in order to limit the humanitarian consequences of the refugee crisis still unfolding. This year alone, they have rescued more than 15 000 people.

While seeking global solutions, we must, acknowledge the legal options available to states under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol, and under other relevant international instruments.    

We must protect those in need. At the same time, we must ensure closer cooperation on the return, whether voluntary or otherwise, of people who do not qualify for asylum or protection. If we don’t succeed in this, we risk undermining the entire institution of asylum. All states have an international obligation to readmit their own nationals.

Chair,

Norway is concerned by the budgetary constraints UNHCR is facing.

Norway provides a substantial amount in support of UNHCR’s core activities in 2016, and I am pleased to confirm that we will continue to do so in the year to come.

As in previous years, this is non-earmarked support which can be spent across all four pillars of UNHCR’s budget. We believe that this will ensure the necessary level of flexibility and predictability, and help alleviate a difficult funding situation.

In addition, Norway will provide funding for Strategic Response Plans and supplementary budgets throughout the year. Last year, Norway’s funding for activities of this kind totalled approximately USD 96 million.

Education in emergencies and protracted crises is a key priority for Norway. More than 8% of Norway’s humanitarian budget is earmarked for education. We are pleased to continue to provide support for the UNHCR and its partners in this and other fields.

Thank you.