The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 31 October 2023.
Statement by Ambassador James Kariuki at the UN Security Council meeting on refugees.
Thank you Mr President, and thank you High Commissioner Grandi for your sobering briefing. This meeting comes at a crucial time. As we’ve heard, the number of people who have been forced from their homes has reached a record high of 110 million. Sadly, this trend is set to continue.
New emergencies are pushing the limits of an already strained humanitarian system, including the crisis in Gaza. We are committed to responding to humanitarian needs. It is also vital that regional stability is maintained, not least given the already high number of refugees in the region.
This Council has a role in tackling rising displacement. And I’ll make four points in this regard.
First, we need to shine a light on neglected crises. In 2017, over 740,000 Rohingya fled horrific ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and sought refuge in Bangladesh. They remain vulnerable and reliant on dwindling aid. This is why this month, the UK, with UNHCR and the US, co-convened a high-level event on Rohingya refugees, where we announced an extra $5.5 million of UK humanitarian support.
Second, we need to establish conditions that enable refugees to return in a safe, voluntary and dignified way. In Syria many refugees in the region want to return home, but report that they do not feel safe to do so. This Council, and all those with influence, must insist that these conditions are in place.
Third, we must recognise that as well as conflict, climate change is also driving displacement. The UK is partnering with the UAE at COP28 to increase access to climate finance for the most vulnerable, including displaced people. We aim to ensure that they have the means to manage the impacts of climate change, to help reduce climate-driven displacement and instability.
Finally, the Global Refugee Forum in December will be a key moment for us to tackle rising displacement together. The UK will be making several pledges to drive initiatives on education, inclusion and protection, and help deliver long-term solutions for refugees and host countries.
We hope other Members will join us in these pledges. To conclude, President, in the face of unprecedented need we agree with the High Commissioner: now is the crucial time to collectively deliver meaningful change for displaced people.
I thank you.