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Refugees: Grandi (UNHCR), world heading in the wrong direction; Cornado offers Italy’s answer

GENEVA, OCTOBER 6 – The number of forcibly displaced persons and refugees will increase to 100 million people all over the world without an improved international cooperation in order to deal with the multiple crises that “erupt or worsen every day”, warned United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at the annual session of the UNHCR Executive Committee in Geneva. “Any one of us can see that we are heading in the wrong direction”, he added. “All indicators are telling us to cooperate to prevent it. And yet we seem unable – or unwilling – to step off the paths we are currently on”.

Grandi pointed out how the inability to equally distribute vaccines in order to stop the COVID-19 pandemic is creating “a world divided between inoculated and exposed, with disastrous consequences for people on the margins of society”, among which refugees, the first ones to lose jobs while poverty rates were skyrocketing. At the same time, decades of global non-action to address the climate crisis had dramatic consequences for refugees, 90% of which comes from the most vulnerable countries in terms of climate change impact.

In the meanwhile, according to UNHCR, uncontrolled and unresolved conflicts all over the world doubled the number of forcibly displaced persons during the last decade, reaching a record 82.4 million people at the end of 2020. “If these trends are not reversed by robust conflict resolution efforts, I fear the question will not be ‘if’ we will reach 100 million forcibly displaced; but rather ‘when’”, Grandi said to the 72nd session of UNHCR Executive Committee that will meet until Friday. He also mentioned the difficult situation of millions of Afghan refugees that have been uprooted for more than 40 years and others that are facing new uncertainties inside the country. He stressed that unconditional and on a large-scale humanitarian aid must be mobilised immediately in order to prevent a deterioration of the crisis and the implosion of the Afghan public services and economy.

The meeting was attended by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva, Gian Lorenzo Cornado, according to whom “one year and a half after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still facing exceptional challenges and it’s dealing with complex and multi-layered humanitarian crises which have further aggravated the fragilities of those in most vulnerable situations, including refugees, internally displaced persons, asylum seekers, stateless persons and those entitled to international protection”. Cornado also expressed the concern of Italy over the increasing number of forcibly displaced persons registered last year all over the world, “a worrying trend determined by protracted displacement situations, conflicts, socio-economic effects of the pandemic, violence, extreme weather events and natural disasters that are forcing people to flee their homes, as shown by the recent dramatic developments in Afghanistan, Mozambique and Ethiopia”.

Ambassador Cornado stressed that “confronted with exceptional circumstances, Italy has responded with unprecedented means to fight against the pandemic and to reduce its secondary effects, in particular on UNHCR’s persons of concern, we have mobilised increased financial resources for ensuring a timelier and more effective emergency response”. He also reminded that Italy, as G20 President for 2021, boosted “the joint commitment of its Member States to pursue a strong, inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic recovery”. He then confirmed the commitment of Italy to implement the provisions of the ‘Global Compact for Refugees’, as much as those undertaken during the ‘Global Refugee Forum’, preparing resettlement programmes and continuing to offer humanitarian corridors for the transfer to Italy of particularly vulnerable refugees. Lastly, he valued the Italian efforts in supporting ‘complementary measures’ through the “University Corridors for Refugees Project”, to the benefit of refugee students from Middle Eastern and African countries who will have a chance to complete, or have access to, university education in Italy. (@giorgiodel gallo)

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Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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