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UNHCR chief thanks United Arab Emirates for helping the forcibly displaced

News Stories, 25 November 2009

© UNHCR
High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres during his visit to the United Arab Emirates.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, November 25 (UNHCR) UN High Commissioner António Guterres has paid a brief visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he thanked the authorities for supporting UNHCR operations to assist forcibly displaced people around the world.

"I am very thankful for the support we are receiving from the UAE leadership and people, something that demonstrates the rich giving traditions that are well established in this country," Guterres told UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash during a meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

He reiterated UNHCR's gratitude for the support of the UAE in helping the forcibly displaced during a meeting with Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, head of the UAE Red Crescent.

The United Arab Emirates is becoming a leading donor to UNHCR and has recently been invited to join the 20+ million club, UNHCR's informal forum for major donors.

During his time in Abu Dhabi, the High Commissioner also delivered a presentation at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research on the comparative study, "The Right to Asylum between Islamic Shari'ah and International Refugee Law."

The book, co-sponsored by UNHCR and written by Cairo University law professor Ahmed Abu Al-Wafa, demonstrates the common content of asylum in Arab customs, Islamic Sharia'ah and international humanitarian law.

The High Commissioner also visited Qatar.

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The High Commissioner

António Guterres, who joined UNHCR on June 15, 2005, is the UN refugee agency's 10th High Commissioner.

UNHCR chief meets Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

On 1 August, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres travelled to northern Burkina Faso with the United States' Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BRPM), Anne Richard. In Damba camp, they met with Malian refugees who had fled northern Mali in the past six months to escape the ongoing conflict and political instability. To date, more than 250,000 Malian refugees have fled their homes and found refuge in neighbouring countries, including 107,000 in Burkina Faso alone. The UN refugee agency has only received one-third of the US$153 million it needs to provide life-saving assistance such as shelter, water, sanitation, health services, nutrition and protection to the refugees. UNHCR fears that the volatile political and humanitarian situation in Mali could lead to further outflows to neighbouring countries.

UNHCR chief meets Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joined UNHCR chief António Guterres on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where they met with boat people who have fled unrest in North Africa.

More than 40,000 people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have crossed the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats and descended on the small island since the beginning of the year.

The UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador flew to Lampedusa from Malta, which has also been a destination for people fleeing North Africa by boat.

Angelina Jolie meets boat people in Malta, Lampedusa

2014 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented the Colombian women's rights group, Butterflies with New Wings Building a Future, with the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday night.

The volunteer members of Butterflies risk their lives each day to help survivors of forced displacement and sexual abuse in the Pacific Coast city of Buenaventura. This city has some of the highest rates of violence and displacement due to escalating rivalries between illegal armed groups.

Drawing on only the most modest of resources, volunteers cautiously move through the most dangerous neighbourhoods to help women access medical care and report crimes. This work, deep inside the communities, helps them reach the most vulnerable women, but also brings with it danger and threats from the illegal armed groups.

The Award ceremony, in its 60th year, was held in Geneva's Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, and featured musical performances by UNHCR supporters, Swedish-Lebanese singer-songwriter Maher Zain and Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré. The Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela also performed at the ceremony.

2014 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

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