UN / REFUGEES SECURITY COUNCIL

07-Dec-2021 00:05:00
In his annual briefing to the Security Council, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the international system “never seems to have been so prone to failure,” resulting in instability, insecurity, famine, disaster, forced displacement, and the “collapse of states.” UNIFEED
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STORY: UN / REFUGEES SECURITY COUNCIL
TRT: 5:00
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 07 DECEMBER 2021, NEW YORK CITY
SHOTLIST
FILE – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, flags outside UN headquarters

07 DECEMBER 2021, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, Security Council
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“We, sadly, all know the international system never seems to have been so prone to failure. And international failure has many faces: instability and insecurity - these are the issues that you deal with every day, but also famine, disaster, collapse of states - which you hear very much about – but also, and here is my message today one of my main messages forced displacement.”
4. Wide shot, Security Council
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“Humanitarian, in spite of the work that we do, and we are doing, cannot replicate the role of states. We cannot save economies. We cannot make societies fully work. We are not a replacement for real engagement and political solution.”
6. Wide shot, Security Council
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“The apparently growing inability of the international community to make and build peace obliges us, humanitarian organizations, refugee organizations, to work more and more in situations of active conflict, of rampant crisis, with rising expectations, once again, on what we can deliver but in reality, decreasing possibilities to actually deliver.”
8. Wide shot, Security Council
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“For 13 months, we have now struggled to deliver aid to people in danger amidst two sides that are fixated on a military outcome but have been so far unable to achieve it and have not heeded your appeals for political negotiations. And this has created some of the worst possible humanitarian context in the world.”
10. Wide shot, Security Council
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“Ultimately, the Taliban, who are in control of the country today, and the international community in its entirety, needs to find a modus operandi; need to coexist with each other; need to make the necessary step for that to happen. The Taliban, of course, by delivering on the all-important issues of the rights of women, women at work, the rights of minorities, and international community by supporting, as it needs to happen, the functioning of the state. And all of this for the sake of the Afghan people. It is politically delicate, but I think that if we don't have the full trajectory ahead of us clear in our mind, we will inevitably always stop solutions that cannot be really definitive for a stable future for the country.”
12. Wide shot, press room with Grandi on screen
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“If anybody politicizes humanitarian action, it is states and not the United Nations as an institution, not UNHCR for sure. And I think that in too many situations where we find ourselves, we are being accused, like in Ethiopia, for example, by all sides to take the other side. This is not healthy. This is not safe for our people. This is not conducive to effective humanitarian action.”
14. Med shot, journalist asking question
15. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“If the Council cannot find unity even in the most basic humanitarian discussions that it is having, or if those solutions like we saw around the cross-border discussion on Syria are reached only after excruciating negotiations, then we are in trouble; then we cannot really aim at moving forward. So yes, I think the prospects, unfortunately, are rather grim in terms of the size of the problem and the complexity of the causes.”
16. Wide shot, press room with Grandi on screen
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“Either they’ll pay a small political price and embrace a burden sharing mechanism between themselves - I'm talking about European states, or they we pay a much higher political price later, when these flows will continue to be messy, will continue to be complicated and put pressure at their borders. So, I think that it is really a choice between now and then, and I hope that, at least in some member states, the choices will be strategically wise.”
18. Wide shot, press room with Grandi on screen
STORYLINE
In his annual briefing to the Security Council, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the international system “never seems to have been so prone to failure,” resulting in instability, insecurity, famine, disaster, forced displacement, and the “collapse of states.”

Addressing the Council today (07 Dec) via teleconference from Geneva, Grandi said 90 percent of the 84 million refugees and displaced persons around the world are in developing countries. He said many of these countries face the perfect storm as the consequences of COVID-19, climate change, and conflict come together and often create situations of forced displacement. He said the Sahel is the place where it is most obvious that there is a direct correlation between the climate emergency, conflict over scarce resources, and forced displacement.

Faced with such challenges, Grandi said the multilateral system has probably never been so important, and yet, the international system “never seems to have been so prone to failure.”

The High Commissioner said forced displacement continues to be subjected to political manipulation to generate overblown reactions as seen in the crisis that developed at the border between Belarus and some European Union countries.

Grandi said failure and inaction compel humanitarians to work in increasingly uncertain conditions and to engage with all types of interlocutors, including some de facto authorities that are not recognized internationally which creates limitations to their work. He said these situations are made more complicated by political difficulties, and the presence of sanctions and other restrictions to necessary dialogue and engagement which prevents finding solutions and protracts and aggravates humanitarian needs.

The High Commissioner said this scenario can be applied to many places around the world including Myanmar, Yemen, and more recently Sudan, but is most starkly evident in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has 39 million people and 23 million are facing extremely levels of hunger among other humanitarian challenges including a lack of housing, poor health, lack of clean water, and a host of protection challenges, Grandi said.

He said the decision by humanitarians to stay on the ground and deliver assistance has allow them to engage with the Taliban on the issue of rights. He said limited progress has has been made and needs to be built on.

Grandi said, “Humanitarian, in spite of the work that we do, and we are doing, cannot replicate the role of states. We cannot save economies. We cannot make societies fully work. We are not a replacement for real engagement and political solution.”

The High Commissioner said he fully understands the complexity of the situation but warned that slow progress is very risky. HE said humanitarians would continue to use the relatively safer space in the country to meet urgent needs, prepare for winter and try to prevent a major outflow of people.

Grandi stressed that the "apparently growing inability of the international community to make and build peace” obliges humanitarian organizations to work more and more in situations of "rampant crisis” with rising expectations but “in reality decreasing possibilities to actually deliver.”

This is the case in many countries, Grandi said, including Yemen, Libya, and most significantly Ethiopia.

Grandi said, “For 13 months, we have now struggled to deliver aid to people in danger amidst two sides that are fixated on a military outcome but have been so far unable to achieve it and have not heeded your appeals for political negotiations. And this has created some of the worst possible humanitarian context in the world.”

The High Commissioner said at least four million people in Ethiopia representing one-fifth of the population are internally displaced and access has been very erratic, inadequate, and often dangerous. He said humanitarian organizations, including UNHCR and the UN as a whole, have been unfairly accused of taking sides by all sides. He added that, since the October offensive and the recent counter-offensive, limited gains in access and delivery have been sliding back quickly. Grandi stressed the need to impress on the parties the need to respect the neutrality of the UN and humanitarian organizations and to ensure their safety, including national staff from all ethnic origins.

Responding to questions and point raised by Council members on Afghanistan, Grandi said, “Ultimately, the Taliban, who are in control of the country today, and the international community in its entirety, needs to find a modus operandi; need to coexist with each other; need to make the necessary step for that to happen. The Taliban, of course, by delivering on the all-important issues of the rights of women, women at work, the rights of minorities, and international community by supporting, as it needs to happen, the functioning of the state. And all of this for the sake of the Afghan people. It is politically delicate, but I think that if we don't have the full trajectory ahead of us clear in our mind, we will inevitably always stop solutions that cannot be really definitive for a stable future for the country.”

The High Commissioner said the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) needs nine billion USD to respond to the needs of 84 million refugees and displaced persons in 2022. He said UNHCR continues to develop new and innovative partnerships with the private sector, international financial institutions and development actors. He stressed that, without establishing the foundations of peace, the efforts of humanitarians will remain very fragile, and failure to find solutions will contribute to more complex human mobility which is less manageable.

Speaking to reporters in a virtual press conference following the Security Council meeting, Grandi said, in the absence of political solutions which seem to be more scarce and far apart, the consequences for people continue to be more serious.

He said the UN is often accused of politicizing humanitarian aid, but stressed, “If anybody politicizes humanitarian action, it is states and not the United Nations as an institution, not UNHCR for sure. And I think that in too many situations where we find ourselves, we are being accused, like in Ethiopia, for example, by all sides to take the other side. This is not healthy. This is not safe for our people. This is not conducive to effective humanitarian action.”

Asked about if there was any glimmer of hope for refugees and displaced people in 2022, Grandi said he sees hope everywhere, if certain things are done. HE said states must cooperate more to try to solve issue and put resources into humanitarian responses. However, he noted that he is not terribly optimistic, especially on cooperation and the search for solutions.

He said, “If the Council cannot find unity even in the most basic humanitarian discussions that it is having, or if those solutions like we saw around the cross-border discussion on Syria are reached only after excruciating negotiations, then we are in trouble; then we cannot really aim at moving forward. So yes, I think the prospects, unfortunately, are rather grim in terms of the size of the problem and the complexity of the causes.”

Asked about European migration policy, the UNHCR chief said the European Commission put forward a very interesting and important proposal represented in the pact for migration and asylum. He said this pact was probably the best that they can have to try to work together to respond to these challenges, unfortunately, the discussion on that pact is not going very far and the political climate is very negative. Grandi noted that doing the right thing requires taking decisions that are highly unpopular, which are utilized by sectors in the political spectrum in many countries to win elections.

He said, “Either they’ll pay a small political price and embrace a burden sharing mechanism between themselves - I'm talking about European states, or they we pay a much higher political price later, when these flows will continue to be messy, will continue to be complicated and put pressure at their borders. So, I think that it is really a choice between now and then, and I hope that, at least in some member states, the choices will be strategically wise.”
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