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Switzerland, Geneva, Permanent Representation of the Republic of Bulgaria

Bulgarian delegation headed by the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Yuri Sterk, took an active part in the discussions within the 73rd session of the UNHCR Executive Committee

20 October 2022 News

The 73rd session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Program was held in Geneva from XXX to XXX October this year. The participants considered a wide range of topical issues falling within UNHCR’s mandate, including the provision of international protection and the situation of internally displaced and stateless persons; the ongoing refugee situations in various regions of the world; the impact of climate change, humanitarian crises and food insecurity on the situation of refugees and their protection in host countries; the strengthening of international solidarity and burden-sharing with countries that have received significant numbers of refugees on their territory; possible ways of addressing the root causes of refugee flows and durable solutions to refugee situations. Certain budgetary and administrative issues were also discussed.

The war in Ukraine and its consequences were in the focus of this year’s general debate on current issues on UNHCR’s agenda. The majority of the countries that took the floor condemned Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, the violations of IHL and the human suffering and loss of lives they entailed. The growing humanitarian crisis, significant refugee flows and the approaching winter season were among the main concerns. Solidarity and readiness to support neighbouring and other countries receiving Ukrainian refugees on their territory were largely expressed.

The Bulgarian delegation, headed by the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria at the UN in Geneva, took an active part in the debate. In his statement, Ambassador Sterk strongly condemned Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the recent massive missile attacks by Russian armed forces on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructural facilities. He informed about measures taken by Bulgaria for the reception and accommodation of Ukrainian refugees and welcomed the support provided by the UNHCR in addition to the government's efforts. He focused on the problems of protracted refugee situations in other regions of the world and encouraged UNHCR to maintain a focus on supporting persons in vulnerable situations, especially women, children and refugees with disabilities. In light of the upcoming Second Global Refugee Forum in 2023, Bulgaria confirmed its support for the Global Compact for Refugees.

In response to the statement made, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi emphasized the relevance of the issues raised by Bulgaria, including the importance of protracted refugee situations in all regions, and expressed satisfaction about the good bilateral cooperation with the office in Sofia in addition to the measures taken by the Bulgarian state with regard to the Ukrainian refugees.

The UNHCR Executive Committee adopted by consensus its conclusions on mental health and psychosocial support.

The 100th Nansen Awards for significant personal contribution to the refugee cause were presented at a solemn ceremony on the margins of the session. The winner of the award for global contribution was the former chancellor of Germany, Mrs. Angela Merkel, for the humane treatment in 2015-2016 of refugees from Syria and the reception of 1.2 million of them on German territory. In her address, Mrs. Merkel emphasized that the events of 2015 were a test to European values, but also a response to a moral imperative.

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