#SadakoOgata'sDeath, #UN; #RoleModelforWorldPeople
New York, Oct 30 (Canadian-Media): The first woman to serve as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, has died in Tokyo at the age of 92, hailed by the UN Secretary-General on Tuesday as a “role model for people across the world.”
©UNHCR/Panos Moumtzis: The former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo in February 1995.
António Guterres said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of her passing: “Sadako Ogata set the standard for helping refugees: principled, compassionate, effective. She was fearless in her advocacy for people, humanitarian action and political solutions.”
As the first woman to lead the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, he said she had been “a pioneer in highlighting not only the impact of violence on women but the imperative of women’s involvement in solutions. Her contributions continued long after her service as High Commissioner, in particular in articulating the concept of human security.”
Ms. Ogata, a Japanese national, led the agency between 1991 and 2000, which was “one of the most momentous decades in its history”, said the current UNHCR chief, Filippo Grandi. She oversaw major emergency operations in response to crises in the former Soviet Union, Iraq, the Balkans – especially Bosnia – Somalia, the Great Lakes, and East Timor, “as well as helping millions of refugees return home in large-scale repatriation operations in Central America”, the agency noted.
Mr. Grandi described her as a “visionary leader” and “committed internationalist, and a friend to the United Nations throughout her life…We at UNHCR extend deepest condolences to Mrs Ogata’s son Atsushi and her daughter Akiko, to all her family and to the Government and people of Japan for their great loss.”
UNHCR said she had been a tireless advocate for international solidarity with refugees, remaining in close touch after leaving the top job, and had pioneered the notion of “human security” and the use of development aid to help solve displacement, in her role as President of JICA, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
The UN chief said she had left “a unique legacy and imprint on the UN Refugee Agency, as I witnessed upon assuming leadership of UNHCR a few years later. Many millions of people enjoy better lives and opportunities thanks to her solidarity and skillful work on their behalf. And the many people today who have been forcibly displaced from their countries and homes are better served because of her achievements.
I am grateful to have known Sadako Ogata as both colleague and friend, and I offer condolences to her family, to the people and Government of Japan, and to her many admirers around the world.”
#LatinAmerica; #politicalCrisis; #HumanitarianCrisis; #EconomicCrisis
New York, Oct 23 (Canadian-Media): Since 2015, approximately 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled their country as the Latin American nation's political, humanitarian and economic crisis drags on, creating one of the “direst” displacement crises in the world, the UN and European Union said on Wednesday, ahead of a solidarity conference next week.
In a press statement from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the European Union (EU) and the UN migration wing (IOM), the entity’s jointly called for host countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to show solidarity toward Venezuelans, with around 80 per cent of those who have left, sheltering in the region.
The mass exodus is in response to Venezuela’s steep economic decline under President Nicolás Maduro, which led the oil-rich country into recession beginning in 2014, prompting record-breaking inflation, and thus, shortages in food, access to health services, and other basic needs.
Since 2014, there has been an 8,000 per cent increase in the number of Venezuelans seeking refugee status around the world, according to UNHCR.
To reiterate the scale of the ongoing crisis, on 28 and 29 October, the EU, IOM and UNHCR are organising an International Solidarity Conference in Brussels hosted by Federica Mogherini, High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, IOM Director General António Vitorino and UNHCR and IOM Joint Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, Eduardo Stein.
The two-day meeting will convene humanitarian and development actors, financial institutions, civil society, and others, to raise awareness of the crisis, reaffirm global solidarity, assess progress and pitfalls in addressing the problem, and call for greater financial cooperation with the region.
The European Commission’s Ms. Mogherini highlighted that with 4.5 million people on the move, more action is needed and the EU and partners “will keep acting”.
“This is a moment to call for even greater support for Venezuelan refugees, migrants and their host communities by the international community...The EU is already the leading donor and key political player, providing €170 million since 2018 in support of the Venezuelan people”, she added.
Though host countries have continued to express solidarity with Venezuelans struck by the crisis, from ensuring they can move freely, access to social services and integration into local communities, the capacity and resources of host nations and communities are reaching a breaking point,” the statement said.
UNHCR reports that hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans remain without any documentation or permission to stay regularly in nearby countries, leaving them lacking access to basic rights. This makes them especially vulnerable to sexual and labour exploitation, violence, and discrimination.
IOM’s Director General António Vitorino said “The international community including donors, cooperation agencies and the private sector need to double down to ensure help arrives for the most vulnerable and those supporting them.”
More than 90 per cent of Africa migrants would make perilous Europe journey again, despite the risks
United States, Oct 21 (Canadian-Media): A landmark UN migration study published on Monday shows that 93 per cent of Africans making the journey to European countries along irregular routes, would do it again, despite facing often life-threatening danger.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) report, Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe, sets out to find out why those who put themselves in the hands of people smugglers, and put themselves in other vulnerable positions to cross borders, make the decision to leave home avoiding formal immigration procedures, in the first place.
The report, which interviewed 1,970 migrants from 39 African countries in 13 European nations, all of whom declared that they had arrived in Europe through irregular means and not for asylum or protection-related reasons, reaches some counter-intuitive conclusions.
Migrants often hold steady jobs, better educated
Migrants often hold steady jobs, better educated
It finds that getting a job was not the only motivation to move; that not all irregular migrants were ‘poor’ in Africa, nor had lower education levels. Around 58 per cent were either employed or in school at the time of their departure, with the majority of those working, earning competitive wages.
But around half of those working said they were not earning enough.
In fact, for two-thirds of those interviewed, earning, or the prospect of earning in their home countries, did not hold them back from travelling. The respondents also spent at least three years more in education than their peers.
“Scaling Fences highlights that migration is a reverberation of development progress across Africa, albeit progress that is uneven and not fast enough to meet people’s aspirations. Barriers to opportunity, or ‘choice-lessness’, emerge from this study as critical factors informing the calculation of these young people,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.
“By shining a light on why people move through irregular channels and what they experience when they do, Scaling Fences contributes to a critical debate on the role of human mobility in fostering progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the best approaches to governing it,” he said.
Migrants, in their own words
Here’s what some of the migrants interviewed told UNDP researchers – their last names were not given to help protect their identities.
‘Shame’ of not providing, keeps African migrants in Europe
The apparent shame of failing in their “mission” to send sufficient funds back home, emerged as a major factor keeping migrants working in Europe, according to UNDP.
Around 53 per cent had received support from family and friends, in order to make the journey, and once in Europe, around 78 per cent, were sending money back.
The report also found key differences between men and women in terms of the migrant experience. A gender pay gap which favours men in Africa, “resoundingly reverses in Europe, with women earning 11 per cent more, contrasting with previously earning 26 per cent less, in Africa”, said UNDP.
A higher proportion of women were sending money back – even among those not earning.
But when it comes to crime, women are suffering more, with a higher proportion falling victim to a crime in the six months prior to being interviewed, than men, and significantly higher instances of sexual assault.
Opportunity and choice must expand at home
UNDP describes Calling Fences as “a clarion call to continue to expand opportunity and choice in Africa while enhancing opportunities to move from ‘ungoverned’ to ‘governed’ migration, in line with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”
It is the second in a series of UNDP reports documenting the journeys of young Africans, with the first, exploring what drives some into the arms of violent extremism.
UNHCR; #dangerousNationalism; #Statlessness
New York, Oct 7 (Canadian-Media): Hate speech and misguided nationalism present a serious threat to efforts to tackle statelessness, despite growing public awareness of the problem, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said on Monday, UN reports said.
The Kutupalong-Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, is home to more than 600,000 stateless Rohingya refugees. Image credit: © UNICEF/Bashir Sujan
Speaking at a meeting in Geneva aiming to convince more countries to assist the many millions of people around the world who live in nationless limbo, Mr. Grandi warned that much more action was needed, five years since UNHCR launched its #IBelong campaign to end statelessness.
“The progress is far from assured: damaging forms of nationalism and the manipulation of anti-refugee and migrant sentiment - these are powerful currents internationally that risk putting progress into reverse.”
Echoing those comments, UNCHR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett urged States present at the UN agency’s meeting to do more to help address stateless people’s despair.
Highlighting the kinds of problems that victims face, the Australian-born Hollywood actor and rights activist pointed out that they are denied access to things every day that those with a nationality take for granted, such as education, healthcare and travel, or just opening a bank account.
“Talk about a low carbon footprint, it’s total invisibility,” she said.
Recalling the plight of a young Lebanese girl who had been left stateless because her mother could not transfer her nationality to her under the country’s laws – despite being from Lebanon - while her father came from an unrecognised minority - Ms. Blanchett described the situation as “heart-breaking, inhumane and devastating”.
She added: “Even at the age of nine, her hopes of becoming what she called ‘a baby doctor’… were becoming dimmer and dimmer, because the prospect of her going to high school were very slender. And as a parent, I could also relate to her parents’ anguish and guilt, and their sense of powerlessness at being unable to change that situation.”
Insisting that the world “can end statelessness”, Ms. Blanchett pointed out that there were relatively straightforward fixes to it, such as legislative changes to remove the gender discrimination laws suffered by the young girl from Lebanon.
Sierra Leone and Madagascar had recently committed to reversing such laws, she said, while insisting that States “have the power to remove those roadblocks” for stateless people.
Turning to the refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh, where around a million mainly Rohingya refugees are sheltering, most after fleeing Myanmar amid a military crackdown and grave rights abuses, the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador pointed that the problem had been decades in the making.
“The scale of the problem caused by the stateless of the Rohingya people is overwhelming,” she said. “I think we should learn as a species from the enormity of this problem”, and what begins on a local level can go on “decade after decade after decade and it becomes a problem beyond that county’s borders and it becomes an international crisis. So let’s not let other issues of statelessness rise to the level of the Rohingya.”
Denied 'a sense of self', families break down: UN deputy chief
Earlier, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the UN refugee agency forum that addressing statelessness and forced displacement required tackling what caused them in the first place: development challenges, weak governance and the exclusion of population groups.
These issues were the target of the 2030 Agenda, she insisted, pointing to their focus on enabling marginalized populations “to contribute to, and benefit from, inclusion in sustainable social and economic development processes”.
At the same time, she insisted, refugee host countries “require tangible support, including from a development perspective, to be able to cope with large-scale influxes and protracted refugee situations”.
To date, around 200 countries have pledged to work with UNHCR on solutions to statelessness, which the UN agency aims to eradicate by 2024.