Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
38th & 39th Meetings (AM & PM)
Five ‘Mega-Trends’ — including Population Growth, Urbanization, Climate Change –
Make Contemporary Displacement Increasingly Complex, Third Committee Told
High Commissioner for Refugees Says Trends Causing Crises to Multiply;
Means Humanitarian Action Operating in Difficult International Environment
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to take up the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and to consider questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions.
Statement by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said humanitarian action was taking place in a difficult international environment, especially against the backdrop of the global financial and economic crisis. He identified five “mega-trends” which were interlinked with the issue of displacement: population growth; urbanization; climate change; food, water and energy insecurity; and migration. The world population was expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050, and almost all the population growth would be in the developing world. The current population is 6.7 billion. A majority live in cities, and that proportion is expected to reach 70 per cent in 2050. Already, services and jobs were failing to keep pace.
He said global warming threatened to contribute to massive displacement. Compared to two decades ago, the increase in extreme weather events today was making natural disasters about twice as likely. Energy demand was expected to increase by 50 per cent in the next 20 years, most of it in the form of fossil fuels, which would contribute to global warming. Approximately 1.4 billion people lacked safe water and water shortages threatened millions, while many poor countries were still undergoing a food crisis. Competition over those and other resources would necessarily intensify.
He added the world had more than 200 million migrants. The demographics, economics and environmental degradation that drove migration were unlikely to relent.
“Attempting to deal with these mega-trends individually would doom the effort to failure. They are a global reality and need a global response”, he said. “This has not always been the strongest feature of an international community whose analytical and policy tools are fragmented and dispersed.”
Those mega-trends were causing crises to multiply and deepen, he said. Two thirds were found in a “band of crisis” stretching from south-west Asia through the Middle East to the Horn and Great Lakes of Africa. It included Palestinian refugees. Of the nearly 14.5 million internally displaced people that benefited from attention by the UNHCR, around three quarters lived in those areas, and almost all the significant new internal displacement had been there.
MESHAL IJI ALMODAF ( Kuwait) said Kuwait continuously supported the UNHCR through voluntary contributions and by hosting a regional office, which provided refugees with humanitarian necessities. Kuwait was always keen to provide aid and humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees, whom now totalled nearly 4.7 million. Kuwait had also helped finance numerous infrastructure projects through international organizations and had donated $34 million to cover emergency relief assistance to the people of Gaza, immediately after the recent attack on Gaza. It also contributed $500 million, $200 million of which was destined for the Gaza Strip.
Kuwait re-emphasized its political, moral and material support for the Palestinian people, out of its belief that the just cause of the Palestinian people be resolved through the implementation of resolutions of international legitimacy. It was very concerned with the obstacles, placed by the Israeli authorities, that hindered the humanitarian work of United Nations agencies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. …
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For information media • not an official record
Document Type: French text, Press Release
Document Source: Department of Public Information (DPI), General Assembly, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Subject: Human rights and international humanitarian law, Internally displaced persons, Refugees and displaced persons
Publication Date: 03/11/2009