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Statement by Mr. Jiakun GUO of the Chinese delegation at 3rd Committee of UNGA 61st Session on the report of the UNHCR (item 41)

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation wishes to make the following comments on the report of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Over the past year, with the continuous return of refugees in Africa and Afghanistan, the total number of refugees worldwide has kept its downward trend and currently has slid to 8.3 million. This is a commendable achievement of the international community by working together in the spirit of "international solidarity and burden-sharing". The Chinese delegation would like to pay high tribute to the staff of the UNHCR, governments concerned and humanitarian relief agencies for their important contributions in this regard.

However, the global refugee situation remains grave. Civil wars and conflicts in many parts of the world have created steady flows of new refugees and internal displaced persons (IDPs). The total number of people under the care of the UNHCR still stands up to 20 million. Many developing and under-developed countries have come under severe strain due to massive numbers of refugees that they have taken in. Countries are therefore called upon to continue to honor their commitments made in the Outcome Document at the last year's Summit and to intensify their efforts to address the problem in a holistic manner guided by the true spirit of the principle of "international solidarity and burden-sharing" so as to find a durable solution to the problem of refugees.

In recent years, against the backdrop of declining refugee populations, IDPs, whose number has steadily climbed to 6 million, have attracted international attention. Humanitarian relief agencies within the UN system and other international assistance agencies and bodies have created, in a concerted effort, a mechanism for providing protection and assistance to IDPs and the UNHCR has been designated as the leading agency in this mechanism. On its own part, the UNHCR has increased input of human and financial resources dedicated to the protection of IDPs. While taking note of UNHCR's efforts in this field, we hope that its activities concerning IDPs should be carried out in strict conformity with relevant GA resolutions and that its primary responsibility of protecting refugees would not be compromised.

Irregular mixed population movements have posed a serious challenge to the current international refugee protection system. How can we make sure that the asylum regime is not abused by various categories of persons in illegal movement while providing timely and effective protection for bona fide refugees? In June this year, the UNHCR put forward a document entitled "Addressing Mixed Migratory Movement, A 10-Point Plan of Action", which contains a number of valuable recommendations, although there is still room for improvement. Given the fact that sovereign states bear the primary responsibility for managing the migratory movement, it is important to engage in full consultations with the countries concerned and obtain their consent before the above-mentioned Plan is implemented.

At the High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development held in September this year, the participating countries unanimously acknowledged the complexity and importance of current global migratory movement and reached basic consensus on the need for enhanced cooperation and integrated management in this regard. In this connection, we welcome the continued participation of the UNHCR in the follow-up to the High-Level Dialogue and hope that it will, within its own terms of reference, contribute to the promotion of orderly and safe migration around the world.

Since taking office, the High Commissioner initiated the structural and management change process aimed at gradually readjusting the internal staffing structure and resource allocation in order to strengthen the UNHCR's capacity of protection and assistance on the ground. This move demonstrates the pragmatic and innovative spirit on the part of the High Commissioner. We hope that this reform will proceed smoothly on the basis of transparency and broad consultations so that the UNHCR will be able to deal more effectively with the refugee problem of our times.

China has attached great importance to and actively participated in international cooperation and exchanges in the field of refugees. For two successive terms in 2005 and 2006, China acted as the coordinator for the Inter-governmental Asia-Pacific Consultations on Refugees, Displaced Persons and Migrations (APC), and has hosted, with the assistance of the UNHCR, several workshops and the annual session of the APC. China is ready to strengthen exchanges with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the UNHCR on the question of refugees and related issues and work for the further development of the APC.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman

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