Thursday, March 13, 2008

13.03.08 : Briefing UNHCR

13.03.08 : Briefing UNHCR

According to the UNHCR, there are around 150.000 Internally Deplaced Persons (IDP) in Timor Leste.

Presentation by Mr. A. Poujai, Senior Desk Officer in Bureau Asia and Pacific of the UNHCR:

When Timor Leste was created no sign of possible crisis was perceived, but it appeared in april-may 2006. After independence, UNHCR was very active in Timor.

The classical scenario is that people flee far from their home, but in Timor it did not happen: people did not go far. It is quite complicate to understand why, but one reason cannot be ignored: they did not want to leave their new State. In consequence, 150.000 IDPs are installed inside Dili.

The first emergency is shelter, but those persons also need food and protection.
There was no law enforcement are security was not assured until international troups (from Malaysia, Australia, New-Zeland...) arrived around a month after the beginning of the crisis.

At the beginning UNHCR hoped that once security would be assured people would have go back to their home, but security was not totally assured even after the arrival of the international forces. People stayed and UNHCR was obliged to organize camps. Many houses were destroyed or occuped by other persons and people are also afraid to leave the camps.

Actually, there are still 100.000 IDPs in Timor and almost all are in Dili.
Timor signed the 1951 Convention on the status of refugees.

Mr. Dick added that other issued are important as food, gangs which are present in the camps, unemployment (60% of the population is under 18, there are no job opportunities so there is an important risk of an increasing number of gangs’ members).
Mr. Poujai added that job opportunities in the rural areas could be a way to make people leave the camps.

Mr. Dick asked about the risk of an impact of the reduced presence of UNHCR. According to Mr. Poujai this risk is not very important. There is no negative impact concerning material assistance.
Dorothee asked about what you can do to reduce gangs. According to Mr. Poujai, a political decision, or a distribution of lands. Two of the main problems are legal rights and property rights.
Suzanne asked about the education situation in the camps. Mr. Poujai replied that IDP are not coming from far, they can go to their school, but some are afraid and do not want to leave the camps.

Mr. Dick thanked Mr. Poujai for his presentation and for the help UNHCR provided and still provide to Timorese. Mr. Poujai thanked the members of the Permanente Mission for coming.

2 videos on Timorese IDPs are available on the UNHCR web site:

Suzanne Roset

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Report of Director General Meeting with the Asian Group

The meeting focused on four key subjects: the ongoing United Nations reform process, the issue of system-wide coherence, the question of renovation and refurnishing of the Palais des Nations buildings, and lastly, internal security and the introduction of a new security system in the UN.

The Director General began his speech by recalling that the relationship between the diplomatic community in Geneva and the UNOG was one of his top priorities.

He then addressed the key priority of the Secretary General, namely the continued reform of the United Nations system, in order to make it more accountable, transparent and result oriented. In order for this to be achieved, the Secretary General wants to reinforce the three UN pillars, Security, Development and Human Rights, for which Member-State support is critical. In this respect, the Director General expressed his thanks to the Asian Group for their efforts with regard to peacekeeping operations of the UN. He also added that the Secretariat was in the process of finalizing the Peace Operations Guidelines, which was to be taken as a clear sign of its commitment to strengthen preventive diplomacy. Reports on the reform of Human Rights, Internal Justice and Harmonization of the conditions of services for field missions were also going to be put forward soon by the Secretary General. Another announcement made by the Director General pertained to the enlargement of the Department of Political Affairs. He nonetheless insisted that economic and social development issues could not take a backseat to security and peacekeeping concerns, and reiterated the UN’s commitment to achieving the MDGs by 2015.

The Director General then moved on to the subject of system-wide coherence. The Secretary General welcomed the UN approach at field level, as well as the eight pilot country projects, but this remained to be placed in the context of the ongoing reform process. During the 62nd session of the General Assembly, there was continued discussion about the issue of system-wide coherence, with some Member-States making concrete proposals to improve the system. The Director General reminded the Asian Group that addressing the question of climate change also called for greater system-wide coherence, and that Geneva could contribute greatly to this matter, as it has become in recent years quite qualified on the subject. He added that system-wide coherence had the potential to improve the effectiveness of the UN at country level, and called on the Ambassadors to take coherent decisions in specialized UN Agencies in order not to create duplications. An announcement was made with regard to a conference on the UN Peace-building Commission taking place on November the 6th.

With respect to internal UNOG matters, the Director General announced that the Palais des Nations buildings needed a complete and comprehensive renovation. He insisted on the security dimension of the buildings and considered changing traditional funding of the process, proposing government or private sector grants, as the Fifth Committee was reluctant to issue additional financial resources.

Lastly, the badge system of the UN was to be changed, in order to enhance security at the Palais des Nations. The Director General counted on the support of Member-States. He thanked the Group for their involvement in cultural activities of UNOG.

Questions from the Asian Group:

The Philippines representative made a suggestion to have a Secretariat official sit in the different UN agencies to insure no duplication was taking place.

Several delegations made comments and raised questions concerning the new security system. Pakistan asked if it would be possible to have only one badge for all the UN related agencies in Geneva. Japan expressed its concern about the new system and made the suggestion to make it more visitor friendly for Officials visiting from the capitals. Indonesia raised the question of security outside the Palais des Nations for their visiting delegations, who were often the victims of small criminality.
These same delegations also commented on and congratulated the work of the Cultural program.

Pakistan also suggested to consolidate all the different meetings from the different UN agencies in Geneva in order to have a stronger argument for funds for renovation before the Fifth Committee. They also raised the question geographical representation at the UNOG.

Iran stated the importance to continue to work together in order to have a better multilateral communication and understanding of each other and proposed to keep all the channels of communication as open as possible between the UNOG and the delegations. Malaysia endorsed Iran’s statement.

Response of the Director General:

With regard to the question of the new security card system, the Director General said that the new system will provide much greater security, and if Member-States were wanting a one-card only system, they should let this be known to the specialized agencies.

Referring to the statement made by Philippines, the Director General replied that it was up to the countries themselves to help prevent duplication by having a more coherent policy in UN related agencies.

Concerning geographical representation, a priority for the UN was precisely to make the professional system more balanced.

Referring to bad room indications, a plan of UNOG was to be finalized and posted soon, so that visiting delegations could find their way more easily around the UN.

Finally, the UN was not responsible for security of diplomats outside the Palais des Nations, but delegations should raise this question with the host country because they were responsible for diplomatic security of foreign delegations.

Pakistan concluded the meeting by an urgent appeal to have a Host Committee meeting on behalf of the Asian Group.