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Danish statement to UNHCR Excom High Level Segment on Afghanistan

High Level Segment on Afghanistan,
66th Session of the Executive Committee of UNHCR,
7 October 2015,
Statement by Ambassador Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen,
Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Let me start by offering my my deepest condolences to the medical staff and other civilians killed and injured in the tragic incident at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz last weekend. Our thought are with their families and friends.
The National Unity Government of Afghanistan has shown ownership and commitment to the sustainable return and reintegration of Afghan refugees, as witnessed by the establishment of the High Commission for Migration. We seem to have an unprecedented opportunity for advancing comprehensive and sustainable solutions for the Afghan displaced population.

At the same time humanitarian needs and security challenges are growing. In this situation, it is crucial that the international community and regional partners continue to support Afghanistan in finding sustainable solutions for the Afghan refugees. For the benefit of the Afghan people - and for the stability in Afghanistan and beyond.
Denmark strongly appreciates the generosity shown by Iran and Pakistan. Both countries have provided safety and assistance for displaced Afghans for decades. It is critical that the international community assists Iran and Pakistan in their continuous efforts to offer shelter and protection to Afghan refugees. We all recognize that local host communities are heavily affected by refugee influxes.  

The many challenges underlying the Afghan refugee situation can only be solved through continued dialogue and joint efforts. We applaud the constructive dialogue taking place between neighbouring states regarding host arrangements, continued protection and return, as witnessed by the various commitments made in this High-Level session. We hope that this will create the basis for enhanced cooperation in the future.

Displacement is not only a humanitarian and protection issue but also a long-term development challenge. We support the multi-year framework contained in the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR)  and underlines the importance of not only aligning this with the national priorities and development programs of the Afghan government, but also of mainstreaming the objectives of the SSAR into bilateral and multilateral programmes.

Non-governmental partners are key actors in our efforts to reach the most vulnerable refugee groups and affected host communities. All states have a strong obligation to provide the necessary conditions for NGO’s to operate effectively, and without unnecessary legal or procedural hindrances.

Denmark’s own strategic approach and support to Afghanistan is strongly aligned with the SSAR. We have a long-term engagement with Afghanistan and focus on creating sustainable livelihoods for returnees, by supporting basic needs such as water, housing and, education, as well as enhanced agricultural production and job creation in both rural areas and urban settings. Denmark will remain committed to addressing the humanitarian needs of the displaced Afghan population through a longer-term development perspective.

We encourage partners to follow suit and to include the approaches of the Solutions Alliance in this endeavor. The Solutions Alliance is a network of likeminded humanitarian actors committed to new collaborative approaches to displacement, rethinking how displacement is managed and seeing the challenges of displacement not  only as “humanitarian” in nature, but as development challenges as well. We stand ready to work with all actors in the search for long-term solutions and improved protection of those in need.

Thank you.