Remarks at a Third Committee General Discussion on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

S. Douglas Bunch
U.S. Public Delegate
New York, New York
November 2, 2022


The United States thanks this year’s facilitator, Sweden, and all the participants for their continued commitment and leadership in strengthening effective and efficient humanitarian assistance. We also thank High Commissioner Grandi for his leadership of UNHCR and the countless UNHCR teams who continue to carry out critical work in the field amid ever-increasing challenges. As we face unprecedented levels of global displacement, the United States is unequivocally committed to humanitarianism, multilateralism, and supporting and protecting forcibly displaced and stateless people. We call on our fellow Member States to join us in this unshakeable commitment.

The U.S. government has responded decisively to new emergencies — including Russia’s unlawful, unprovoked war in Ukraine — while not neglecting protracted crises that demand our sustained attention and resources. The United States is the single largest donor of international humanitarian assistance, providing more than $17 billion in life-saving aid around the world this year and continuing our long, proud tradition of humanitarian leadership. The nearly $2.2 billion we provided to UNHCR last fiscal year was our largest-ever annual contribution — a true testament to our enduring and invaluable partnership.

Russia’s war in Ukraine worsens a global food security crisis that disproportionately harms the forcibly displaced, who often lack access to livelihoods or social protections. Internal conflicts and climate shocks, such as in the Horn of Africa, push people from their lands, stunting food production, while preventing food assistance from reaching those who need it most. Without a surge of assistance, famine could decimate districts of Somalia where the UN estimates drought displaced 926,000 people this year alone.

The United States remains concerned over historic levels of global forced displacement. We implore all Member States to demonstrate their robust support for UNHCR’s populations of concern not only through funding to UNHCR but also through access to, and support for, durable solutions and refugee inclusion to improve the quality of life for refugees and the communities hosting them. These efforts are essential while we work to make durable solutions a reality.

As we continue to prioritize durable solutions and advocate for non-refoulement, the United States is deeply alarmed by increasing threats and reports of refoulement of Syrian refugees. We note UNHCR’s declaration that Syria remains unsafe for return and urge Member States to re-commit to protection best practices and cease any plans for involuntary returns of refugees to Syria, which may violate states’ international legal obligations.

More needs to be done for refugees facing protracted crises. In Fiscal Year 2022, the United States provided nearly $358 million in humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya crisis, including for refugees who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh and elsewhere, while working toward durable solutions that include resettlement, employment, education, and family reunification opportunities which are essential to protecting Rohingya and ensuring refugees can live with dignity and hope.

We also welcome UNHCR’s progress on climate action. We appreciate UNHCR’s work to provide critical resources to mitigate the impacts of climate change on forcibly displaced populations and their host communities and to develop the resilience to withstand future crises. This will continue to be a key challenge requiring adequate resources.

Thank you.