UN opens Global Refugee Forum in Geneva

Sudan Events – Sumaya Sayed

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Wednesday opened the Global Refugee Forum with a call for an “immediate and sustained humanitarian cease-fire.”
“A major human catastrophe is unfolding in the Gaza Strip, and so far, the (UN) Security Council has failed to stop the violence,” Grandi said in Geneva, addressing the three-day forum.
Noting that the events happening since Oct. 7 are “outside the mandate of UNHCR,” he said: “However, we foresee more civilian deaths and suffering, and also further displacement that threatens the region.”
“I cannot open the global refugee forum without first echoing the call of the United Nations Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) for an immediate and sustained humanitarian ceasefire,” he said.
The high commissioner also asked for the release of hostages and said the resumption of a genuine dialogue would bring a “real peace and security to the people of Israel and Palestine.”
Israel has bombarded the Gaza Strip from the air and land, imposed a siege and mounted a ground offensive in retaliation for a cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.
At least 18,412 Palestinians have been killed and 50,100 injured in the Israeli onslaught since then, according to Gaza’s health authorities.
The official Israeli death toll in the Hamas attack stands at 1,200, while around 139 hostages remain in captivity, according to official figures.
The UN General Assembly on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to demand a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza. There were 153 votes in favor, 10 against and 23 abstentions.
He stressed that there are 114 million people worldwide forcibly displaced and 75% of refugees are being hosted by low- and middle-income countries which are often “already struggling themselves to provide and care for their own citizens.”

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