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Statement by Estonia at the UNHCR Executive Committee 68th Session General Debate


UNHCR Executive Committee 68th Session




Statement delivered by H.E. Mr. Andre PUNG

Ambassador, Permanent Representative

of the Republic of Estonia



General Debate – Item 4

Geneva, 3 October 2017



Thank you Madam Chair,

Estonia fully aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union and its Member States and would like to add some additional remarks in its national capacity.

Allow me to thank the High Commissioner for his insightful opening statement made yesterday and for the special segment on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. We fully share the view of the High Commissioner that it is time to sustain and accelerate the shift in how we respond to forced displacement and that the CRRF offers a new and promising model for adequate response. In this regard, I wish to reaffirm Estonia’s commitment to the New York Declaration and to the process leading to the Global Compact on Refugees, including the application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. We recognise the need for further global responsibility sharing, strengthened solidarity and international cooperation.

I also join the High Commissioner in expressing our concern as the world continues to face the significant challenge of numerous simultaneous large-scale crises, with the unprecedented number of (more than 65 million persons) displaced worldwide. In this context, the pursuit for solutions is a collective responsibility towards refugees and forcibly displaced persons. Political will and leadership are urgently needed to halt and reverse the regrettable trend of increasing numbers of displacement and ever-growing needs. A sustainable solution to forced displacement must build on addressing its root causes.

Estonia highly appreciates the UNHCR’s work around the globe and we cherish our long-standing cooperation with the UNHCR. In particular, we commend the UNHCR for fulfilling its mandated leading role in providing international protection to refugees and forcibly displaced persons and for UNHCR’s response to acute and protracted situations of forced displacement in many complex humanitarian settings. We welcome the UNHCR’s support to States and other relevant actors in building their protection capacity.

Madam Chair,

We remain deeply concerned about the refugee situation in many parts of the world. Most recently, witnessing the flight of half a million refugees from Myanmar in just a month has again underlined the need for protection and unrestricted humanitarian access. On this note, allow me to also point out the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, to which Estonia draws particular attention. The serious situation in Ukraine should be kept in our sight as the number of the displaced persons and their suffering continues to be a cause for great concern. In this context, it is unacceptable that UN agencies have not been granted full access in Eastern Ukraine. Furthermore, we are concerned about the serious funding gap of UN agencies for their operations in Ukraine.

Madam Chair,

Estonia welcomes the UNHCR’s continued focus on building partnerships for a more comprehensive and effective response as highlighted yesterday by the High Commissioner. This includes also working with partners outside the humanitarian sector, while remaining committed to the humanitarian principles. With that reference, we welcome UNHCR’s efforts to reduce costs and measure the efficiency gain with technology and innovation, such as through the use of biometrics for refugee registration, and we are looking forward to further reports in this regard. The advantage of new technologies and innovative solutions should be assessed and put in practice where possible in order to deal with refugee situations more effectively.

In the context of growing needs that result in widening funding gap, we also expect UNHCR to continue prioritizing and reforming its way of operating, while developing greater transparency and accountability of funding allocations. We commend the UNHCR’s commitment to implement the Grand Bargain and its Results-Based Management framework, which facilitates and strengthens operations management from the planning stage through to monitoring and reporting, and helps to achieve its Global Strategic Objectives.


Finally, Madam Chair, Estonia values highly the work of UNHCR’s dedicated staff, notably in the field and appreciates UNHCR’s efforts to reform. We are looking forward to receiving regular updates on firstly, UNHCR’s work and strategy on IDPs and secondly, on the progress regarding the ongoing Change Management process.

Thank you!


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