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UN urges support for refugees at Davos summit
Head of UNHCR calls on leaders meeting at World Economic Forum not to lose sight of humanitarian crises around globe.
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2012 19:15

The head of the UN refugee agency has called on leaders meeting at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland to keep sight of humanitarian crises around the world as they seek solutions to economic troubles in other parts of the globe.

Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said on Friday that economic turmoil was fueling conflicts around the world and hurting those already hard-hit.

"When prices go up and unemployment goes up, tensions increase and more conflicts are triggered, more people are victims of war in different parts of the world," he told The Associated Press news agency. 

"These people suffer enormously."

Guterres was speaking on the sidelines of the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, where about 40 heads of government and leader's from the world's biggest companies have gathered to discuss issues ranging from the eurozone crisis to Iran's nuclear programme and other issues.

Guterres, who is at the Davos summit to ask for further financial aid for the UN's aid effort, has asked for "massive support" from the international community to assist hundreds of thousands of refugees, particularly in Sudan and South Sudan.

More than 350,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes in three states in Sudan and South Sudan, according to the UN agency.

Two of the states - South Kordofan and Blue Nile - are in Sudan, while the third - Jonglei - is in the world's newest nation.

'Humanitarian emergency'

In Blue Nile and South Kordofan, 100,000 people each have been forced out of their homes. Jonglei, in South Sudan, remains the worst affected, with inter-tribal violence having driven 150,000 from their homes.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, Guterres said the issues facing the three states are ultimately political, about borders, oil, and citizenship status after the formation of South Sudan last summer.

"There is never a humanitarian solution for humanitarian problems. The solution is always political," Guterres said, referring to the situation as a "massive humanitarian emergency".

In the six months since the independence of South Sudan, 360,000 people have arrived in the newly formed nation but Guterres said, "there is almost no economy, no infrastructure", leaving those arriving to the south with little in terms of integration into the young state.

He said the UNHCR is doing all it can do to move the refugees further in-land and farther from the border regions where they could be subject to air raids and inter-community conflicts.

It is "essential to preserve the civilian and humanitarian character of these camps", Guterres said.

Further complicating the status of refugees in the two states is Sudan's announcement on Thursday that starting from April 8, all South Sudanese will be treated as foreigners by the state.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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