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Remarks by Simon Henshaw at UNHCR ExCom Reception
October 4, 2017

On the occasion of the annual Executive Committee session of the U.N. High Commisisoner for Refugees, the United States hosted a reception for delegates, UNHCR officials, and other international organization and NGO partners. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi; Acting Assistant Secretary

U.S. Reception for UNHCR Executive Committee Delegates

Remarks by Simon Henshaw
U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

Geneva, Switzerland
October 3, 2017

Thank you Ted. Appreciate your attention to our issues and the partnership to advance humanitarian assistance.

Distinguished colleagues,

Thank you for joining us to celebrate UNHCR and its partners.

As we gather here at ExCom, we are all acutely aware of the suffering around the world, but also the human resilience and cooperation that endures.

This has been a difficult year. Thank you for the hard work of UNHCR staff and all humanitarians.  

Nansen Refugee Award ceremony is a reminder of what good individuals can do together – what can be done with little to no financial resources.

The U.S. is committed to humanitarian issues and dedicated to improving support for refugees and host communities in countries of asylum. We thank those countries for keeping borders open and enabling refugees to access national services and gain self-sufficiency so that when the time comes, they have the ability to voluntarily return home better equipped to rebuild their nations.  We stand with you, accompany you, and take seriously our shared responsibility to support people forced to flee their homes.

At UNGA two weeks ago, President Trump expressed appreciation for the United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance. Further, Secretary Tillerson, Administrator Green, Ambassador Haley, and I reaffirmed U.S. commitment – and the international community’s commitment – to seek solutions that end crises and bring peace, prosperity, and stability.

There are challenges ahead as UNHCR implements a better way of working through the CRRF. For our part, we contributed nearly $1.5 billion to UNHCR this fiscal year.  We also are deepening our interagency, NGO, and private sector engagement, so that our response and contribution to a better way of working is from the whole of government and whole of society.

UNHCR, with others, seeks to address root causes while protecting the most vulnerable, including women and girls in transit and in countries of asylum. Our Safe from the Start funding is a model for how we can help UNHCR and other International Organizations systematically prevent and respond to gender-based violence.

Be confident that U.S. government leadership and strong support will continue.

During times of change, I appreciate the strong Senior Executive Team of UNHCR: HC Filippo Grandi, DHC Kelly Clements, AHC-P Volker Turk and AHC-O George Okoth –Obbo. 

Special thanks to Filippo for your leadership of UNHCR. Your perseverance and good judgment has enabled UNHCR to improve the lives of millions.

Toast – Thank you all for coming tonight. Raise a glass to the High Commissioner and the staff of UNHCR for the important work that you do.