November 21, 2014
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, right, and JICA President Akihiko Tanaka
JICA President Akihiko Tanaka held talks with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Nov. 14 at JICA headquarters in Tokyo.
As a humanitarian assistance organization, the UNHCR has devoted itself to giving emergency assistance to new refugees, but recently it has focused on tackling the issues of protracted refugees (1) and has started an initiative known as Solutions Alliance (2) that involves development partners around the world.
Guterres said the UNCHR encourages other development institutions to become more involved in fostering global stability, taking advantage of opportunities such as those involving the United Nations General Assembly. Moreover, he touched on Japan’s announcement of its contributions to Zambia and Somalia through Solutions Alliance and said JICA's initiatives to provide solutions to refugee issues have been exemplary.
After saying he would like to contribute to Solutions Alliance as much as possible, Tanaka emphasized that now is the time to assist countries that have extricated themselves from crises in transitioning to a stable situation by seamlessly conducting humanitarian assistance and development cooperation. He also said it is important to maintain the possibility of growth by preventing the expansion of crises to the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions that are central to the world economy.
When Guterres said JICA's activities in Jordan and Lebanon carry an important meaning for the UNHCR, Tanaka talked about the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park in Palestine (3) and responded that he wants to show through that project that civilian projects contribute to peace building in Palestine, Israel and Jordan.
The two men also discussed the circumstances in the Middle East — Syria, Jordan and Lebanon — as well as in South Sudan and elsewhere.
1. As local conflicts have lasted a long time, people with protracted refugee status have come to represent three-fourths of the world's refugees (51.2 million people as of the end of 2013). To solve the problem of protracted refugees, there are several methods including local integration, voluntary repatriation and resettlement in a third country, but to implement them it is necessary to incorporate a development viewpoint into humanitarian assistance.
2. An international initiative to solve the refugee problem through a close partnership between humanitarian assistance organizations and development institutions. It was started at a roundtable discussion held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in April 2014.
3. In July 2006, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who visited the Middle East, suggested "the Initiative of Corridor for Peace and Prosperity." This agro-industrial park was created with assistance from Japan in a suburb of Jericho on the West Bank of the Jordan River as one effort to bring that initiative to fruition.