The IFRC partnership to address the needs of vulnerable migrants

Published: 11 December 2012

UNHCR Structured Dialogue on Partnerships
Statement made by Sue Le Mesurier, Manager Migration Unit
On behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

High Commissioner and colleagues,

I thank you for the invitation to be here today and represent the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Since your invitation to the Secretary General, Bekele Geleta in November 2011, IFRC and representative RCRC National Societies have been actively engaged in this important dialogue with UNHCR on making partnerships more effective globally. In recognition of this initiative the IFRC commits to working closely with UNHCR to address the increasing needs of vulnerable migrants and persons of concern to both UNHCR and IFRC. This afternoon I will briefly highlight some of these intitiatives.

The partnership process itself over the past year with InterAction and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) has seen excellent cooperation and we were pleased that during the Reflection Workshop in July 2012 we could be joined by RCRC representatives from Tunisia, Syria, Kazakhstan and Botswana.

The important issue of partnerships was addressed during the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. The migration resolution adopted during the Conference expressed concern “about the often alarming humanitarian situation of migrants in situations of vulnerability, at all stages of their journey and ongoing risks that migrants face in regards to their dignity, safety, access to international protection as well as access to health care, shelter, food, clothing and education”.

The Resolution, recognising the role of the Movement in working with vulnerable migrants, called upon states and components of the Movement to continue to collaborate and build partnerships, including international organisations such as UNHCR, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

Our partnership with UNHCR was further strengthened in 2007 when an operational agreement signed between the two agencies noted that we would work in a spirit of solidarity and respect for each others’ missions and mandates to assist vulnerable beneficiaries. RCRC National Societies currently represent more than 25% of all contractual partnerships in UNHCR operations worldwide with a current value exceeding more than CHF25 million.

The global partnership between IFRC and UNHCR is multi-faceted, we provide protection and assistance to refugee and migrant communities such as those in Iran and Pakistan where there are more than 3 million refugees and also in the surrounding countries where people are currently fleeing from Syria. We work alongside UNHCR in the provision of services in Camps, provide First Aid training to UNHCR staff, undertake Honorary Liaison roles in the Caribbean, facilitate reuniting separated families, provide health and psychosocial services, and support individuals and families who are trapped, often in dire circumstances.

In October this year IFRC launched, the World Disasters Report, which highlights the plight of forced migrants. In 2011 there were over 70 million people, or more than one in every 100 of the world’s citizens, displaced by conflict, political upheaval, violence, disasters and other drivers such as climate change and environmental degradation.

As the High Commissioner has often noted, tragically the number of people forcibly displaced is increasing as the phenomena of migration becomes more complex. More than 20 million people are currently trapped in a state of “protracted displacement” – living in camps or in unplanned and informal parts of cities, typically unable to work and unable to access even basic social services. Jointly with UNHCR and the International NGO community we can work in partnership to improve the lives of these people.

We are honoured to be part of the High Commissioners Structured Dialogue on Partnerships and assure you that the IFRC will remain committed to developing and strengthening existing partnerships with UNHCR as well as forging new ones to galvanize our collective response to global population movement challenges and allow us to better harness the myriad of opportunities and challenges that this presents for all of us today.

Thank you, High Commissioner.