The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in the sunny city of Durban, South Africa.


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Statements and Speeches

Statement by Ambassador NJ Mxakato-Diseko, the Representative of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, on the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-Agenda Item: 61

New York, 3 November 2016


South Africa would like to extend its appreciation to the High Commissioner for his insightful remarks and for the comprehensive report before us.

Africa continues to witness a large number of forcibly displaced people. This has created an increasing burden on host countries, many of whom have their own socio-economic challenges of poverty, unemployment, and income inequalities that needs to be addressed within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The scale of unprecedented level of forced displacement necessitates a global collective response based on equitable burden sharing.

In his report, the High Commissioner relatedly highlighted that Sub-Saharan Africa continues to experience a significant number of large-scale refugee crises. The High Commissioner further noted that protracted and complex crises occasioned by armed conflicts have forced millions of people to flee their respective countries of origin and to remain in exile almost indefinitely.

South Africa is gravely concerned by this state of affairs and recognizes the urgency with which States must address the root causes of forced displacement to ensure that an environment is created which is conducive to economic growth and sustainable development and which fosters respect for the fundamental human rights afforded to all persons everywhere.  

Accordingly, South Africa supports the outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul in May 2016 which has brought renewed focus to the global humanitarian system and the challenges posed by an ever-increasing number of humanitarian crises in the face of decreasing resources with which to address them.

No humanitarian crisis should enjoy more attention and receive more funding than another. Our common humanity demands that we address the suffering of people everywhere with equal concern and dedication. There should never be an instance of forgotten crises.

In this regard, I would like to remind the meeting that the World Humanitarian Summit recognised the imperative need to expand the overall base of funding by attracting a more diverse group of donors and types of financing mechanisms to effectively and efficiently respond to humanitarian crises anywhere and at any time. It is therefore encouraging to note that the United Nations Secretary General’s call for an increase in funding for the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to the level of US$ 1 billion by 2018 has been positively received.  South Africa urges donors from all sectors of global society to heed the Secretary General’s call and contribute generously to enable CERF to fully realise its mandate to preserve the sanctity of human life.    


South Africa also notes with concern that 3.7 million persons were recorded as being stateless in 2015 – as reflected in the High Commissioner’s report. This requires urgent collective actions by all of us.


In conclusion, as host to a large number of forcibly displaced people and a responsible and caring member of our community of states, South Africa remains committed in fulfilling her international obligations in addressing the challenges of forcibly displaced people in the spirit of solidarity.

South Africa’s commitment is based on the fundamental principle of Ubuntu which means “I am because you are, I exist because you exist” - as human beings our fate are inextricably linked.

It is our collective imperative duty to realize the life in larger freedom of every citizen of the world, wherever they may be, especially those that are forcibly displaced.

I thank you.