9-October-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Intensifying Efforts To Help Refugees And Internally Displaced Persons

Vatican City, 9 October 2012 (VIS) - On 2 October Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva, addressed the sixty-third session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), focusing his remarks on "more creative and concrete forms of solidarity and protection".

"The surge in the number of recent conflicts has produced new waves of refugees and displaced persons", said the archbishop speaking English. "The media spotlight focuses on the more politically interesting cases for them and leave in the shadows of public awareness other masses of displaced people forgotten and left to their tragic destiny. The Holy See delegation takes note and is grateful for those countries which have kept their borders and their hearts open to receive refugees fleeing conflict in neighbouring States, and calls on all member States to assist in sharing the burden these new refugee populations place on many of their hosts".

"It is once again a fact this year that there are more persons internally displaced by conflict in the world than there are refugees. My delegation is also aware that the topic of the extent of the UNHCR's involvement in providing assistance to internally displaced persons is one on which States differ. In some instances there is a genuine fear of "mission creep" and a concern that the core mission of the UNHCR, protection of refugees, will suffer. In other instances there is reason to suspect that the presence of neutral, international eyes during internal armed conflict or the provision of life saving assistance to locally disfavoured groups might not be welcome. The Holy See encourages the High Commissioner to continue to go the extra mile with regards to those displaced by armed conflict. This should be done in the first instance by seeking humanitarian access to affected populations to assess their protection needs, and in the second instance in coordination with other United Nations bodies by providing crucial assistance to these people".

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