Statement by Counsellor Kjetil Elsebutangen on behalf of Norway
Thank you for the update on UNHCR’s global progammes. We have a few comments under this agenda item.
Norway is very concerned that the international community does not do more to ensure children’s fundamental right to education. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children. Knowing that the average length of conflict-induced displacement is 17 years, we believe that education in emergencies needs special attention. We commend those host governments who open their national education systems to refugee children and we urge UNHCR to continue its work in assisting. In 2016, 12 percent of Norwegian humanitarian funding was allocated to education – and as much as 20 percent of our humanitarian funding for Syria and the neighbouring countries was allocated to education. Norway will continue to support the implementation of UNHCR’s education strategy and we encourage others to do the same.
The 20 per cent increase in cash-based interventions last year is an interesting and welcome development. In our view, cash-based interventions should be seen as a tool to better meet the humanitarian needs of affected people, providing more choice and enhancing dignity. There is a potential efficiency gain in cash assistance, and we believe there is still room for improvement, better coordination and scale-up. However, the use of cash is not an end in itself, and is not always appropriate. Proper market analyses and understanding of each specific individual context must determine which set of tools can best meet assistance and protection needs.
We would like the UNHCR together with other relevant UN agencies to pursue that refugees in Syria’s neighboring countries to the extent possible use only one card and one code. This could help ensuring that more funds reach the beneficiaries. We are aware that this modality needs monitoring, but at the outset, we do not see why the mandate of any given agency should determine what the beneficiaries can use their funds on. We look forward to continue discussions with UNHCR on this topic.
Finally, we have a question that is not dealt with directly in the update on the global programmes, but is a cross cutting theme, namely UNHCR’s revised commitments to women and girls. We would like to ask how you plan to finalise and roll out these commitments, how they will be mainstreamed in your programmes and specifically how you plan to conduct the staff training on this?