Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

221102 - UN Third Committee Report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees


2 November 2022

Statement by H.E. the Hon Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Chair, Australia thanks the High Commissioner for his report on UNHCR’s operations over the past year. We are acutely aware of the extraordinary levels of displacement, and sadly note that a tragic milestone has passed with more than 100 million people now displaced globally.

In a year that saw multiple, intersecting and complex crises stretch humanitarian organisations to their limits, Australia commends UNHCR’s tireless efforts to address the needs of millions of people in crisis. We also commend the dedication of UNHCR personnel to “stay and deliver” in a range of extraordinarily challenging circumstances.

Australia concurs with UNHCR’s call for increased efforts to accelerate implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees, especially in the lead up to the second Global Refugee Forum in 2023. We were encouraged by the international community’s willingness to cooperate with host countries on more equitable burden and responsibility sharing to address the consequences of displacement. We urge states to continue to progress their commitments under the Compact - to find new ways to cooperate and to accelerate implementation.

Chair, Australia remains concerned by the significant funding gap facing UNHCR. We know responding to the impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine will require additional resources. It is important, now more than ever, that the humanitarian system is coordinated in its efforts to deliver effective and efficient responses. We continue to highlight the value of flexible, unearmarked funding and encourage other partners to provide this where they can. And we encourage humanitarian partners, including UNHCR, to diversify and broaden their funding base. 

Chair, Australia is concerned by the resettlement statistics report for the year as resettlement numbers remain short of global needs. Australia, as a global leader in resettlement efforts, is committed to sustaining generous and flexible humanitarian and settlement programs that meet our international protection obligations. The Australian Government also aspires to progressively increase Australia’s humanitarian intake.

At a time of unprecedented global displacement, Australia recognises the need to look beyond traditional responses and provide additional pathways for refugees and displaced people to safely move to third countries. In line with our commitment under the Global Compact on Refugees, Australia is piloting new approaches to complementary pathways, including through labour mobility and sponsorship.

Australia commends UNHCR for its increased focus on localisation and meaningful refugee participation. Australia encourages UNHCR to highlight and replicate leading examples and to work with more refugee and women-led organisations in 2023. Locally led, inclusive responses are critical to effective, sustainable protection measures and solutions.  

Australia welcomes UNHCR’s 2022-25 operational strategy for climate resilience and environmental sustainability. Recognising that over 80 per cent of refugees and internally displaced peoples come from the most climate-vulnerable parts of the world, it is critical that we act collectively to address the impacts of climate change. We know from first-hand experience that the Indo-Pacific is a region particularly prone to climate driven disasters, and therefore likely increased displacement.

Australia welcomes UNHCR’s continued commitment to the participation of women in leadership and management in displacement situations. Australia appreciates UNHCR’s ongoing leadership on Age, Gender and Diversity policies for refugee, stateless and displaced persons.