PERMANENT MISSION OF INDIA
64th Session of the Executive Committee of UNHCR
[30 September- 4 October 2013]
Statement of India during the General Debate
1. My delegation would like to felicitate you on your efficient steering of the deliberations of the session. We thank the High Commissioner for his statement outlining the activities and challenges faced by UNHCR. We acknowledge the commitment of the High Commissioner and his staff in their tireless efforts to implement the core agenda of UNHCR- that of protection of refugees in the most trying and difficult circumstances. We also pay tribute to UNHCR staff, who lost their lives in the line of duty.
2. Since we met last year, we are witnessing significant deterioration of crisis situations in many countries. As the High Commissioner pointed out, more than 80% of today’s refugees are hosted by developing countries who continue to meet their humanitarian obligations, often risking their delicate economies. In our common pursuit to find more lasting durable solutions, it is important to determine the causes from a development perspective –be it abject poverty or conditions of deprivation, which in the first instance causes most refugee movements in the developing countries. A better understanding of the underlying reasons would help develop more comprehensive policies for early return and reintegration of refugees into their home country.
3. My delegation shares the High Commissioner’s concern regarding the situation of protracted refugees. While we address emerging crises situations, it is important not to lose sight of the protracted refugee situations. There is an imperative to create conditions for voluntary repatriation, which is the best durable solution to refugee problem. To this end, developing countries of origin should be assisted to create economic opportunities for returning refugees. While we recognize the political complexities that limit the implementation of voluntary return in many cases, bilateral and regional dialogues amongst countries involved is necessary to reassure the refugees of safe and stable return to their countries of origin.
4. We support High Commissioner’s internal reform initiatives aimed at achieving result-based management. We also believe that the ongoing efforts to enhance the accountability and transparency in UNHCR’s working methods must be continued. We note the first written report of the Independent Audit and Oversight Committee (IAOC) 2012-2013, as well as compliance with International Public Accounting Standards.
5. We note UNHCR’s cluster-based approach in dealing with internal displacement situations in areas of protection, camp management & coordination and emergency shelter. It was reassuring to note that the High Commissioner has categorically stated that the primary responsibility for internally displaced lies with States, and UNHCR’s role is part of a shared inter-agency commitment under the cluster approach. We would, therefore, believe that UNHCR’s role in situations involving IDPs should be on the basis of explicit requests by the States concerned. Given its limited resources, UNHCR’s coverage of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) should not result in neglect of refugees. International organizations can provide a supportive role but they cannot substitute governments in the protection of their own people.
6. We need to guard against the intersection of the two constituencies of migrants and refugees as the apprehensions of one should not be transposed on the other. International migration needs to be promoted in a regular non-discriminatory and orderly manner as migrants add value in economic terms both to the destination as well as sending States. UNHCR must, therefore, develop capacities to maintain a clear distinction between refugees and economic migrants so as to better address the protection needs of the former.
7. India’s record in dealing with refugees has been no less than exemplary. India stands steadfast in its commitment to provide humanitarianism assistance to them. We continue to host a large number of refugees and our programmes for them are managed entirely from within our own resources. Our protection regime is based on the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and other relevant legal provisions. We have clearly demonstrated our abiding commitment to the principles of protection and non-refoulement.
8. The decision to grant all UNHCR mandate refugees in urban areas the opportunity to apply for long stay visas of a one year renewable duration augments the protection space considerably. These long stay visas allow refugees to work in the private sector and enrol in any academic institutions .India continues to refine its administrative mechanisms for providing greater hospitality to refugees during their stay in the country.
9. Finally, we reiterate our commitment in cooperating with States and UNHCR, through productive dialogue and implementation of programmes for the benefit of refugees. We look forward to a fruitful outcome of the deliberations of the 64th Executive Committee.
I thank you, Madam Chair.