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IP/10/475

Brussels, 28 April 2010

Commissioner Georgieva discusses future cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

For the first time since taking up office, Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, today met United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, whose mandate was recently renewed. This first meeting provided an opportunity for them to discuss the joint work carried out by the Commission and the UNHCR for refugees and displaced persons throughout the world and to look to the major challenges facing humanitarian actors, such as rapid urbanisation, the growing threat to humanitarian space and workers, not to mention demographic developments and climate change.

"The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is one of our most important humanitarian partners", said Ms Georgieva. "I am delighted to have had an opportunity to talk to Mr Guterres about some of my main concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in the world. Needs are growing, situations are becoming increasingly complex and humanitarian space is all too often violated. The EU and the UNCHR intend to act together as guardians in preserving impartial humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable".

High Commissioner Guterres referred to the longstanding partnership between his agency and the European Commission. "The current humanitarian crises are complex, last for a long time and are often forgotten. Never before have we relied so much on European support to help the most vulnerable".

One of the topics discussed by Commissioner Georgieva and António Guterres was what is called at the moment, for want of a better term, "persons or populations displaced by climate change". "Mr Guterres and I discussed the best way of helping these new refugees, whose status has not yet been defined and whose rights need to be safeguarded", added Ms Georgieva.

Background

The UNHCR is mandated to lead international action to protect and help refugees throughout the world. Twice winner of the Nobel Prize, it is one of the foremost humanitarian agencies in the world. As a result of its partnership with the European Commission humanitarian aid department, the UNHCR was able to provide help in twenty countries in 2009. The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is the UNHCR's biggest donor.

ECHO is also one of the biggest donors of humanitarian aid in the world. With a 2009 budget amounting to roughly one billion euros, it financed humanitarian aid in over 70 countries. The Commission's humanitarian aid is impartial, neutral and independent, and exclusively geared to meeting the needs of the most deprived. The humanitarian projects financed by the Commission are implemented by its partners: United Nations humanitarian agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent family.

For more information on the Commission’s humanitarian aid go to:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_fr.htm


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