13 October 2010

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in Oxford - Teaser

On 13 October, I had the opportunity to attend António Guterres giving this year's Harrell-Bond Lecture, as hosted annually by the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford.

Read the full article here:
http://heidiwitz.blogspot.com/2010/10/un-high-commissioner-for-refugees.html

5 courageous comments!:

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that no one mentioned during the event that hundreds of thousands of Somalis and Africans are retuned from the Saudi border every year as reported by the NY Times recently.

This is probably the biggest deportation campaign of asylum seekers and refugees under the nose of UNHCR in recent history. You would imagine Dag Hammarskjold turning in his grave, Angelina Jolie quitting public life and Kofi Annan...well, you can not actually read the guy.

With the wide coverage in the media (NYTimes, Reuters...), someone will be fired, right? Cause we don’t expect a Japanese kind of seppuku by sword, right?
Well, in fact, the Ambassador of UNHCR in Saudi Arabia is getting a promotion. Dr. Yacoub El Hillo who presided over “most likely” the biggest deportations of asylum seekers in recent history will be promoted next month to head the Middle East and North Africa Region. This is what UNHCR told us during their annual meeting last month. They also announced that Egypt will be heading UNHCR’s governing body, Human Rights Watch went nuts.

This is where nonsense stops and now I will tell you what will take place next.

The Senior Management of the UN, under pressure to justify their decisions will explain to us that there are known knowns, there are known unknowns and there are also unknown unknowns.

And then again, when Saudi Arabia justifies the death of five detained Ethiopians as a result of "asphyxiation due to overcrowding” as a natural cause of death, why can’t the UN justify Senior Management appointment.

What is more, how can we blame Dr. El Hillo for keeping the peace over the past two years!

Three years later, and more deportations of asylum seekers multiplied by the number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa and everyone will recognize the need for change. Only then, Pan ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations will appoint Yacoub “Hussein” El Hillo as a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Well, I might have exaggerated a little: Yacoub El Hillo is not holder of a PhD.

DVD

Anonymous said...

Why UNHCR is making a big deal today out of Kenya returning 10'000 Somalis when Saudis are returning hundreds of thousands?

Heidi said...

Dear DVD,

I don't mean to suggest anything but the increasing significance of Gulf states as humanitarian donors, including to multilateral organisations in the past years might be one of those "known unknowns" in international relations that make it difficult for organisations like UNHCR to negotiate policy.

Another reason might be the Gulf countries' concern with stabilising the region and their long-term domestic security interests (demographics). As far as I am aware of, Saudi Arabia is also quite involved in the flood response in Pakistan, which is a region that a lot of governments have an interest in stabilising for the sake of international security. Mind you, I am not justifying the deportations, just trying to shed some light on what might be going on behind the scenes.

When you say, "This is what UNHCR told us during their annual meeting last month" who are you referring to by "us"? Were you at the talk in person? Might be interesting to continue this discussion off screen.

Anonymous said...

Saudis nab 2 000 at border daily- Wiki

Anonymous said...

1. Dan Says:

I do not understand the silence of the United Nations when it comes to KSA. If an average of two thousands are being returned on a daily basis, and 695000 were retuned in a year to a awar zone at one point, why the silence?

To solve a problem, you need to measure it and put it in a context. Historically, this is unprecedented. Can anyone explain?

Dec 5, 2010 Saudi Nab 2000 at border daily, Reuters

Dec 3, 2010 30 Africans deported by S. Arabia dying in Yemen-IOM (Alert)

Dec 2, 2010 Smugglers make life tough for African migrants, IRIN News: “After spending 10 days in Saudi jails prior to her deportation, Kimya, an Ethiopian female asylum-seeker, said the Saudi police took her to the border. “They said: ‘This is Yemen.’ They shot in the air three times and told us to walk.”
Nov 25, 2010, YEMEN: Civilians flee violence to Saudi Arabia, Refoulement of Refugees (IRIN News

Nov 20, 2010 Prince Turki al-Faisal ”Refugees fleeing the conflict [in unstable Yemen] flood across our border.” CNN

Nov 16, 2010 Ethiopian refugees stranded by Yemen’s Saudi border, AFP.

Oct 26, 2010 Hundreds of Thousands [Somalis and Ethipoians] are sent back to Yemen at the Saudi Border, NYTimes

Aug 4, 2010 At least one infiltrator is arrested every “five minutes” attempting to cross the Yemeni Saudi Border. Foiled infiltration attempts over the past two years stands at 695000. As per the Saudi border Authorty. Assharq Alawsat newspaper.