UN Emergency Relief Coordinator outlines plan to speed aid to displaced persons

The “barrier-breaking” proposal is targeted to help the 20 to 25 million internally displaced persons around the world who, unlike refugees, are forced to flee within their own countries and receive “little or no help from the outside,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told the Committee yesterday. “Human lives are worth saving whether they’ve crossed borders or not,” he said, referring to the legal distinction between refugees and the internally displaced.The new approach involves delegating responsibility to individual UN humanitarian agencies that have specific experience in certain sectors, and providing a means for their effective collaboration. For example, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) would lead a “cluster” of agencies in protection, camp management, and emergency shelter. The creation of a Central Emergency Response Fund would facilitate rapid deployment to UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Coordination between UN Headquarters and the field would also be strengthened. Earlier in the session, High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said his agency would be a fully engaged partner in the collaborative approach, and their more than 50 years experience in helping refugees would benefit displaced persons who face many of the same problems. “I commend UNHCR for taking this desperately needed role,” said Mr. Egeland, noting that the new push to help displaced persons will not detract from the agency’s mandate to care for refugees. read more