by Tobi Aworinde
The United Nations has said the number of people across the world who have been internally displaced is at its worst.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, while addressing the yearly meeting of the organisation’s High Commissioner for Refugees’ Governing Executive Committee in Geneva, on Wednesday, called on countries around the world to do more to prevent forced displacement, address its root causes and support solutions for those affected by it at a time of multiple crises.
“Never before in United Nations history have we had so many refugees, displaced people and asylum-seekers. Never before has the United Nations been asked to reach so many with emergency food assistance and other life-saving support.
“Some of the challenges are on the front pages. Others are far from the headlines. In Iraq and Syria, we see new depths of barbarity with each passing day, and devastating spillover effects across the region.
“These include people fleeing from war and civil strife from the Central African Republic to northern Nigeria; from the Horn of Africa to the Sahel,” Ban Ki-moon said, adding that, in Africa, more than two million people had been forced to leave their homes this year.
He noted that the international community needed to pull together more than ever at a time when the world was facing so many challenges, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
“This requires greater resources and more political leadership. It also requires unprecedented cooperation by the international community,” he stated.
Ban Ki-moon, who is the first UN secretary-general to address the ExCom in a decade, also said there was a need for an earlier and greater focus on human rights.
The Secretary-General noted that the ‘Rights Up Front’ initiative, which he set up in December 2013, aimed to place human rights at the centre of people’s thinking and collective efforts in the field, adding that UNHCR had been a supporter from the start.
“With its leadership on protection, the UNHCR has provided important expertise in the context of humanitarian settings and ongoing conflict situations. With its culture of protection, the UNHCR serves as a model for the wider system,” he said.
He cited the protection of nearly 100,000 UN bases throughout South Sudan this year, describing them as an early milestone of this new approach.
The UN chief also highlighted the need to work together from an early stage to find lasting solutions for the forcibly displaced, saying the needs and potential of displaced populations needed to be reflected in national development plans and based on joint analysis.