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UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council sign agreement to improve the protection of displaced people

News Stories, 29 May 2006

© UNHCR/E.Compte
A blacksmith in a camp for internally displaced people in Gbarnga, Liberia. UNHCR and NRC cooperate in the monitoring of returning IDPs and refugees in Liberia.

GENEVA, May 29 (UNHCR) UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), two leading organisations working for the protection of refugees, signed an agreement Monday which aims to improve the protection of displaced people worldwide.

There are close to 25 million people around the world who are refugees in their own countries. They have fled persecution or conflict, but they have not crossed an international border. In the jargon of the humanitarian agencies, they are known as internally displaced persons, or "IDPs." Without the safeguards and assistance afforded refugees, IDPs constitute probably the largest group of vulnerable people in the world today.

With Monday's agreement, UNHCR and NRC will be pursuing a more strategic partnership, at the global level as well as in specific operations, with emphasis on closer cooperation in the field to protect and assist IDPs.

"NRC's systematic approach to working with IDPs globally makes them an essential partner for UNHCR," said High Commissioner António Guterres, who signed the agreement at UNHCR's headquarters. He also stressed the need to extend this alliance to other partners.

The two agencies cooperate in many countries, including Colombia, Uganda and Sudan. In Liberia, for example, UNHCR and NRC work closely to carry out protection monitoring of returning IDPs and refugees.

On signing the agreement, NRC Secretary-General Tomas Colin Archer highlighted the importance of coordination among humanitarian agencies in field operations, as well as the need to register IDP populations to better meet their needs.

"This agreement will further enhance the close cooperation between our two agencies," he said.

© UNHCR/S.Hopper
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, and Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Tomas Colin Archer, sign a memorandum of understanding between the two agencies.

In a recent revision of how humanitarian agencies jointly approach IDP situations, UNHCR has taken the lead for protection, camp management and emergency shelter, and is tasked with developing strategies and coordinating the work of other agencies and non-governmental organizations in these areas.

The Norwegian Refugee Council is one of the world's leading non-governmental organisations working on humanitarian issues. NRC has a solid international standing through its operations in the field, the secondment of personnel to inter-governmental agencies and its advocacy and training work. NRC's main focus on international refugee work has gradually been broadened to include the growing number of conflict-induced internally displaced persons.

Through the activities of its Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (formerly known as the Global IDP Project), NRC collects and analyses IDP-related information, advocates for the rights of the displaced and provides training on IDP protection. NRC has some 1,300 staff worldwide.

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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR and Partners Tackle Malnutrition in Mauritania Camp

The UN refugee agency has just renewed its appeal for funds to help meet the needs of tens of thousands of Malian refugees and almost 300,000 internally displaced people. The funding UNHCR is seeking is needed, among other things, for the provision of supplementary and therapeutic food and delivery of health care, including for those suffering from malnutrition. This is one of UNHCR's main concerns in the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania, which hosts more than 70,000 Malians. A survey on nutrition conducted last January in the camp found that more than 13 per cent of refugee children aged under five suffer from acute malnutrition and more than 41 per cent from chronic malnutrition. Several measures have been taken to treat and prevent malnutrition, including distribution of nutritional supplements to babies and infants, organization of awareness sessions for mothers, increased access to health facilities, launch of a measles vaccination campaign and installation of better water and sanitation infrastructure. Additional funding is needed to improve the prevention and response mechanisms. UNHCR appealed last year for US$144 million for its Mali crisis operations in 2013, but has received only 32 per cent to date. The most urgent needs are food, shelter, sanitation, health care and education.

The photographs in this set were taken by Bechir Malum.

UNHCR and Partners Tackle Malnutrition in Mauritania Camp

Lebanon: Rush to ArsalPlay video

Lebanon: Rush to Arsal

The bombardment of the Syrian city of Yabroud has driven thousands of refugees across the mountains into the Lebanese town of Arsal. UNHCR and its partners, including Lebanese NGOs, are working to find shelter for the newly arrived.
South Sudan: Bringing Aid to MalakalPlay video

South Sudan: Bringing Aid to Malakal

UNHCR and its partners have been able to start handing out aid items to thousands of people in the South Sudan town of Malakal, where insecurity and widespread looting had prevented distribution. There are many women, children and older people among the displaced.
Looking Back: UNHCR's Challenges in 2013Play video

Looking Back: UNHCR's Challenges in 2013

In 2013, conflict and natural disaster forced people to flee their homes in places like Syria, the Philippines, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and South Sudan. UNHCR was able to help millions of the affected people, but this would not have been possible without the special partners who supported the agency's life-saving work.