ExCom High level Segment: Enhancing International Cooperation, Solidarity, Local Capacities and Humanitarian Action for Refugees in Africa
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Chair, Excellencies, High Commissioner Guterres, friends,
Thank you, High Commissioner, for the efforts of UNHCR and for challenging us to do more, think differently and forge new partnerships.
This is urgently needed in a situation where the world is facing four ‘level 3 crises’, two of them in Africa: South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
And I’m afraid that we may see the next level 3 crisis in Somalia, if we don’t act now and act decisively.
These are man-made political crises. They are leading to conflicts and instability, immense suffering and massive displacement.
The figures (for Africa) speak for themselves:
- 3 million refugees
- 12.5 million internally displace persons
- 700 000 stateless people
There are refugee situations that go back decades, for example the Somali and Eritrean refugee populations.
There are new emergencies in the Central African Republic and Nigeria that are causing large scale displacement.
And in some countries, people are being displaced over and over again, as in the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The current Ebola outbreak is placing an additional burden on states in Western Africa.
Action is urgently needed to address these humanitarian crises in Africa – both on the part of the continent itself and the international community.
African countries are already taking great responsibility by receiving refugees from neighbouring countries.
Humanitarian organisations are responding actively to the crises. Donors are providing an unprecedented level of funding.
Still, this is not enough. Many humanitarian response plans are alarmingly underfunded. The needs are immense. We must also do more to protect displaced women and children.
Norway is stepping up its humanitarian assistance to Africa.
But humanitarian action alone can never solve the challenges Africa and the world are facing. It can only ease the suffering. Real solutions are needed at the political level.
South Sudan is a case in point. A power struggle among members of the ruling elite has led to a human catastrophe.
More than 1.7 million people have been driven from their homes.
The country now faces the worst food security crisis in the world.
When we met in Oslo in May this year, 22 countries made pledges totalling more than 618 million US dollars.
We still need more resources for South Sudan and the neighbouring countries.
But above all we need the government and the opposition in South Sudan to stop fighting and show leadership.
Without a political solution, the suffering will continue.
Without a political solution, there can be no development.
We must strengthen the links between development cooperation and humanitarian action.
This is necessary when we face the growing challenge of climate change. Adapting to climate change is vital to prevent future humanitarian disasters.
Early warning systems and other climate services are crucial. Hence, Norway is supporting the Global Framework for Climate Services.
Education is another area where the links between development cooperation and humanitarian action need to be strengthened.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 12.6 million children of primary school age do not attend school. We cannot afford this.
Education is one of the keys to ending extreme poverty.
Education is lifesaving and life-sustaining.
Education provides important protection for children in emergency situations. We welcome the strong emphasis UNHCR puts on this.
Norway’s goal is to ensure that a million more children in conflict areas can receive a good quality education.
Education has long-term effects. It provides building blocks for the future.
That is why we need to invest in education – at all levels. Norway is doubling its funding for global education. This funding will total 570 million US dollars in 2017.
We are also actively working to strengthen our partnership with UNHCR and UNICEF on education.
Excellencies, High Commissioner,
Over the past decade we have seen economic growth and greater stability in several African countries. Still, the continent continues to face major challenges:
Man-made conflicts, climate change and poverty.
Lack of access to health facilities, education and jobs.
These are all obstacles to development.
They are also among the main root causes of migration.
Let me assure you that Norway is committed to work in partnership with Africa to find durable solutions to these challenges.