Comment by the Information and Press Department on the 68th session of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:53

The 68th session of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently closed in Geneva.

During the session, the participants noted that armed conflicts and political crises are the main causes of large migration flows. Refugees often become targets of political manipulation; international cooperation is replaced by fragmented responses, and the quality of refugee protection is deteriorating, particularly in the industrialised countries of Europe and the United States.

They noted a further increase in the total number of refugees by 2 million in 2017. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is currently responsible for more than 65 million people worldwide.

At the same time, there has been a certain improvement in the humanitarian situation in Syria, a reduction in the number of people in need, and Syrians are returning to their places of permanent residence. Hopes for a continuation of this trend in the UNHCR are also associated with the success of the Astana talks.

The Russian Federation supports the leading role of the UNHCR in the development of the Global Compact on Refugees, which will be adopted following intergovernmental negotiations at the UN conference in the autumn of 2018. We proceed from the fact that the Compact will make an important contribution to the regulation of global migration; it will become the basis for long-term comprehensive cooperation in matters involving refugees and will improve their situation.

We share the UN High Commissioner’s concerns about the migration situation in Europe, in particular, in connection with the death of a significant number of forced migrants in the Mediterranean Sea – over 2,400 people in the last seven months of 2017. We fully agree with the UNHCR that the European countries should provide more effective access to asylum, including at the borders, and show greater solidarity in working with refugees.

The Russian Federation has accepted and has given protection to a large number of refugees and forced migrants from Ukraine, where “the situation continued to deteriorate” in eastern parts in 2017, according to UNHCR estimates.

We support further multifaceted interaction with the UNHCR to enhance the effectiveness of its efforts within the existing mandate based on the principles of neutrality, humanity, independence and impartiality, and with consideration for the results of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi’s official visit to Russia in February 2017.

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