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Remarks by Theodore Allegra 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 Theodore Allegra
Charge d’affaires ad interim
U.S. Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations

Geneva, Switzerland
October 3, 2017

Good evening. High Commissioner Grandi; your excellencies; colleagues; friends.  It is my pleasure to welcome you tonight on the occasion of the annual UNHCR Executive Committee.

Many of you here were involved in last week’s session of the UN Human Rights Council. In that forum, we collectively addressed some of the world’s worst and most challenging human rights crises in central Africa, in Syria, and in Myanmar.

It is striking to me that this week, we are collectively addressing some of the world’s worst and most challenging humanitarian crises in the very same places.

The compelling conclusion is that these challenges demand the world’s response in a chorus of voices, in a chorus of commitment, and in a chorus of action.

It is our job to work together – member states, UN agencies, and NGOs alike — to confront smartly, efficiently, and with resolve these and the many other inter-related and vexing humanitarian challenges that demand action.

Most broadly, it is our job to respond with compassion, with funding, and with a collective determination to use the best diplomatic skills we can muster to create a better future for the world’s most vulnerable citizens.

This week at EXCOM provides an important moment to reflect upon — and to rededicate ourselves — to these tasks. And, importantly, to reaffirm our collective support for UNHCR and its efforts to help the staggering numbers of forcibly displaced people around the world today.

As part of that effort, I want to commend UNHCR High Commissioner Grandi, and his excellent team world-wide for their consistently terrific work under almost always consistently difficult conditions.

One of the key objectives for the United States during this year’s UN General Assembly – again – is a focus on humanitarian assistance; quite simply, U.S. efforts to meet humanitarian needs – particularly support for refugees and host countries — remains a top priority in Washington, in Geneva, and in New York.

And the United States has no better partner in that effort than UNHCR and High Commissioner Grandi. The United States remains deeply committed to UNHCR’s work, as we remain deeply committed to continuing our leadership role in the humanitarian system through funding, and through diplomacy on the global stage.

Through these efforts, it is important to highlight the need for strengthened interagency coordination and collaboration – the key to responding to these increasingly complex crises effectively and efficiently. In this context, we support UNHCR in its role, as part of the broader UN system, to implement the reforms called for by Secretary General Guterres in New York.

All of these efforts on behalf of the United States are led by Simon Henshaw, acting Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, or “PRM”.

Simon has led PRM during a time of innumerable complex crises. His determination has never wavered.  He and his team have helped the U.S. government strengthen multilateral humanitarian diplomacy.  He has confronted the crises of the present, and he has led U.S. efforts to develop the humanitarian system of the future, through the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and other mechanisms.

In the truest sense, Simon and his team are partners with us all. With that, Simon, the floor is yours.

Thank you all again for coming tonight.