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Statement by H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu,
Permanent Representative of Japan
On the occasion of the briefing by the UNHCR
8 January 2009
I thank the High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Antonio Guterres for his briefing. It is timely and useful, as the plight of nearly 40 million displaced people from their homes remains precarious and serious in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Darfur, DRC, etc. There are another 26 million people displaced by natural disasters.
(Root causes of displacement)
As the High Commissioner has pointed out, the tragic phenomenon of displacement is growing increasingly complex. More and more people are being forced to move not only because of conflict, but also as a result of extreme poverty, natural disasters, and environmental degradation. We are also all too aware of the negative impact that climate change and the global food crises are having on those refugees and IDPs.
We need to address these root causes so that the number of displaced persons does not continue to swell. As the root causes are different in each case, there is no single policy measure which can resolve the issue worldwide.
However, I am convinced that conflict prevention is one of the most effective measures to reduce displacement. Peace-building efforts to prevent recurrence of conflict are therefore indispensable to addressing protracted refugee situations. The reintegration of displaced persons should be accorded a higher priority as we develop and implement integrated peace-building strategies.
Protection of those who are forced from their homes is naturally the most urgently needed first step.
However, to achieve a durable solution to displacement, it is necessary not only to protect but also to empower refugees and IDPs.
We believe that assistance for return and reintegration, such as vocational training and education for returnee children, is essential to seek a durable solution.
Japan has placed emphasis on the empowerment of vulnerable people such as refugees and IDPs and integrated approach, by promoting human security perspective. We look forward to the UNHCR's continuing to strengthen a people-centered approach in implementing its program.
(Safety and security of humanitarian personnel)
The staff members of the UNHCR and other humanitarian personnel are selflessly devoting themselves to helping those most in need, often in difficult and dangerous situations. It is a source of deep concern that casualties among humanitarian personnel are on the rise and humanitarian workers are increasingly becoming a target of the attack. Such attacks are unacceptable.
We call upon all parties concerned to take appropriate action to secure humanitarian space, fully respecting the neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian assistance. As a matter of great urgency, we must find a way to meet the challenge of securing humanitarian space and the safety and security of all who operate within it.
A number of PKO missions have mandates to protect humanitarian workers. Many Security Council resolutions contain calls to relevant parties concerned to secure the safety and security of humanitarian workers.
However, we are often disappointed with the reality on the ground. We wonder if it relates to problems in the mandates of missions or the structures and capacity of missions to implement these mandates.
We need to consider actively any improvement in protecting those workers more effectively. We hope that the study jointly commissioned by the DPKO and OCHA on the implementation of Security Council mandates on the protection of civilians will analyze this issue in depth.
We welcome the recent adoption of a resolution by the General Assembly, designating 19 August as World Humanitarian Day, in order to raise public awareness about humanitarian activities worldwide.
(Support to UNHCR)
Japan has been consistently a strong supporter of and one of the top donors to UNHCR. During a recent visit by the High Commissioner, the Japanese Government conveyed to him its continued support and its decision to accept refugees from Myanmar for resettlement.
Lastly, I wish to commend the High Commissioner for his strong leadership in addressing the issue of displacement effectively, by making UNHCR more decentralized and field oriented organization. We hope to see UNHCR engaging even more effectively in its vitally important activities to assist the displaced people.
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