UNHCR chief says multiculturalism 'inevitable'

3rd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres called Monday on states not to succumb to rising xenophobic pressure and turn refugees away, saying that multiculturalism is not only good, but inevitable.

"In my view, multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious societies are not only a good thing, they are inevitable," said Guterres.

"Building tolerant and open communities is a slow and delicate process. But nondiscrimination is a core human rights principle, and it is the duty of all states to acknowledge and give effect to it.

"Refugees cannot become collateral damage of anti-immigrant attitudes and policies," stressed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UNHCR says it is harder to find solutions for some 43 million refugees, internally displaced and stateless people around the world amid rising xenophobia.

Crises are also multiplying and conflicts becoming more complex, noted Guterres.

The uprisings in the Arab world and the political unrest in Ivory Coast have sparked thousands of displacements this year. The famine in Somalia has forced hundreds of thousands more to flee.

The UNHCR will seek $3.5 billion from donors for 2012, and $3.4 billion for 2013.

With advanced economies suffering from a public deficit crisis, the UNHCR said it would be "intensifying its efforts to broaden its income base, including by reaching out even more to the private sector for support."

In August, the charitable arm of furniture giant Ikea made a record $62 million pledge to help thousands of people at Dadaab, the world's biggest refugee camp in Kenya.

© 2011 AFP

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