UN refugee chief underlines challenges in assisting global displaced

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres sits among two young boys from Syria at the Moria Identification Centre, Lesvos, Greece. Photo: UNHCR/A. Zavallis

The increase in the number of displaced people worldwide has not been accompanied by a rise in resources to meet their needs, the head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.

António Guterres was speaking during an informal meeting at the UN on ways to address the global humanitarian and refugee crisis.

War, conflict and persecution have forced nearly 60 million people to flee their homes: the highest level ever recorded, according to the UN.

Dianne Penn reports.

Mr Guterres is in his final months as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

When he took up the post 10 years ago, the UNHCR was helping one million people to return home, thanks to successful peace negotiations.

Last year, they assisted less than 130,000 people with this process.

For the UN refugee chief, the world has changed "dramatically."

He described it as a more dangerous place with more fragile areas that produce humanitarian consequences that are worse than in the past.

He hoped that the international community will work harder to prevent and solve conflicts.

"But in between, we have to deal with the people that we care for.  And as we have to deal with the people we care for, we need first of all to recognize that we do not today have the capacity to respond to their most basic needs."

Mr Guterres also spoke against keeping people in refugee camps for decades.

He called for "a new compact" that would allow refugees to live in dignity but also protect countries hosting them from any "dramatic impact" on their economies and societies.

For example, he said this could include increasing resettlement, family reunification, humanitarian admission and other related policies.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’18″

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