Briefing by the High Commissioner for Refugees
Expected Council Action
In April, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi will brief the Council. The briefing will take place under the agenda item “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, which allows for a general briefing by the High Commissioner without tying it to a specific situation on the Council agenda. No outcome is expected.
Since the early 1990s, the Council has occasionally received briefings by the High Commissioner for Refugees about specific situations on the Council’s agenda, such as briefings by then-High Commissioner António Guterres on the Sahel in 2012 under the agenda item “Peace and Security in Africa” or on Syria in December 2015. It has received three briefings under the agenda item “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”. The first such briefing was on 10 November 2000 when High Commissioner Sadako Ogata gave her final address to the Council before leaving her post. While it was Ogata’s 12th Council briefing, all of her previous briefings had been held under country-specific agenda items. On 8 January 2009, Guterres briefed the Council under this general agenda item during the presidency of France.
More than eight years passed until Grandi briefed the Council under the same agenda item on 2 November 2017. He surveyed the multitude of displaced people in various new crises as well as in protracted situations that had remained entrenched. He said that the sharp rise in forced displacement reflected declining international cooperation and capacity to prevent, contain and resolve conflicts. He added that when local situations were neglected because of short-term and competing interests, they eventually expanded and became transnational crises.
After two years of consultations led by UNHCR with member states and other stakeholders, the General Assembly affirmed the Global Compact on Refugees on 17 December 2018. The compact provides guidance for states and international organisations about how to support refugees and meet their needs in ways that benefit them as well as their host communities. Its objectives are to ease pressures on host countries, promote refugee self-reliance, expand access to third-country solutions, and support conditions in countries of origin in order to facilitate refugees’ safe return.
Germany, the Council President for April, has opted to use this general agenda item to request that Grandi brief on any situations he wishes to address on the Council’s agenda. Grandi is expected to address the current state of refugees worldwide and the displacement aspect of various conflicts on the Security Council agenda, with a view to highlighting ways in which the Council can help alleviate the global refugee crisis and perhaps support the work of UNHCR.
The number of displaced people around the world is considered to be at its highest ever. According to UNHCR, there are currently 40 million internally displaced people (IDPs), 25.4 million refugees and 3.1 million asylum-seekers worldwide. More than 44,000 people are forced from their homes daily because of conflict or persecution. Numerous conflict situations on the Council’s agenda have a displacement component that Grandi may address. In particular, 57 percent of refugees come from three situations on the Council’s agenda: Afghanistan, South Sudan and Syria.
Grandi visited Syria for the fourth time on 7 March to assess the massive humanitarian needs facing the population. An estimated 1.4 million IDPs returned to their homes in Syria in 2018. At the same time, more than 5.6 million Syrians live as refugees across the region, and 6.2 million remain internally displaced.
The protracted conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in nearly 2.5 million Afghan refugees, the second largest refugee population in the world after Syria, and 2 million IDPs. Speaking at the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan on 27 November 2018, Grandi noted that a solution to Afghan displacement “continues to be central to any debate about the future of Afghanistan”.
The civil war in South Sudan, which broke out in December 2013, has occasioned mass displacement, with over 2.2 million refugees in neighbouring countries and nearly 2 million IDPs.
Another situation of concern is Myanmar, where more than 745,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar fled to Bangladesh as a result of the violent acts of the Myanmar military forces after the 25 August 2017 attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on security posts, joining 200,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh displaced by previous cycles of violence. Grandi was scheduled to visit Rakhine state in Myanmar in January, but Myanmar authorities cancelled the trip. On 15 February, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration launched the 2019 Joint Response Plan (JRP) to meet the massive needs of the refugees, seeking to raise $920 million.
UN DOCUMENTS ON BRIEFINGS BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES
|Security Council Meeting Records
|2 November 2017S/PV.8083
|This was a briefing by the High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
|8 January 2009S/PV.6062
|This was a briefing by High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
|10 November 2000S/PV.4219
|This was Ogata’s briefing to the Security Council.
|General Assembly Documents
|13 September 2018A/73/12
|This contains the Global Compact on Refugees.