• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Italian takes UNHCR helm amid migrant crisis
Filippo Grandi, the new head of the UN refugee agency. Photo: Jewel Samao/AFP

Italian takes UNHCR helm amid migrant crisis

AFP · 4 Jan 2016, 12:19

Published: 04 Jan 2016 12:19 GMT+01:00

"UNHCR is navigating extraordinarily difficult waters," Grandi said in a statement on Monday.
   
"The combination of multiple conflicts and resulting mass displacement, fresh challenges to asylum, the funding gap between humanitarian needs and resources and growing xenophobia is very dangerous," he said.
   
The 58-year-old diplomat officially replaced Antonio Guterres on January 1st, when the former Portuguese prime minister stepped down after a decade at the helm of the refugee agency.
   
But Grandi arrived for his first day of work at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva on Monday morning, the agency said, adding that he was taking the wheel "at a time of unprecedented displacement challenges."

Late last year, the agency announced that the number of people displaced by war and violence hit a record high of more than 60 million in 2015 - surpassing even the 50-million mark reached during World War II.
   
Europe too faced its worst migration crisis since 1945, with over a million men, women and children reaching its shores in 2015.
   
Most of those risking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean mainly to Greece and Italy were refugees desperately fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
   
Over 3,700 people drowned or went missing at sea, UNHCR said.
   
The choice of Grandi for the key post was seen as a nod to Italy, which has been particularly hard-hit by the refugee crisis in Europe.
   
Denmark's restrictive policies on refugees were meanwhile cited among the factors weighing against one of his competitors, former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Long career in aid work

Grandi was also recognized for his work in several tough UN positions over a 30-year career in international affairs.

Story continues below…

Among them was his challenging work as head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA from 2010 to 2014, a post he held after serving as its deputy from 2005 to 2010.
   
Grandi had previously worked as deputy envoy to the UN aid mission in Afghanistan and was UNHCR's mission chief there.
   
He has also been involved in UNHCR efforts in Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Iraq, and led humanitarian operations in Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
   
But leading the UN refugee agency at this historic juncture could prove his toughest task yet.
   
"The road ahead is a challenging one," Grandi said.
   
"But I hope that - working with governments, civil society and other partners - we will make progress in ensuring international protection and improved living conditions for millions of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people."

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Live: At least 73 dead in central Italy earthquake
Residents of Amatrice survey the damage to their homes. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

A powerful earthquake that rocked central Italy on Wednesday left at least 73 people dead, the country's civil protection unit said in the first official death toll.

A long history of deadly earthquakes in Italy
Photo taken on May 17th 1976 of a nun showing a church destroyed by the Friuli-Venezia earthquake. Photo: AFP

At least 73 people were killed after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy early on Wednesday.

At least 73 dead in central Italy earthquake
Rescuers carry a man in Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

A powerful earthquake that rocked central Italy on Wednesday left 73 people dead and the total is likely to rise, the country's civil protection unit said in the first official death toll.

Italy earthquake: What we know so far
Rescuers carry a man through the rubble of damaged homes. Photo: AFP

At least 73 are reported dead as rescuers work to save those trapped in the rubble.

'We only heard their cats': quake sorrow of Italian village
A victim of the quake in Illica desparately calls his relatives. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

Sitting with his brother on a bench in Illica, one of the Italian mountain villages devastated by a powerful earthquake on Wednesday, Guido Bordo clasps and unclasps his hands repeatedly.

IN PICS: Aftermath of deadly earthquake in Italy
A man from Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

"Three quarters of the town isn't there anymore," said the mayor of Amatrice after a deadly quake hit overnight.

Migrant travels 400km clinging beneath lorry in Italy
The youngster was spotted travelling north on Italy's A1 motorway. Photo: Polizia di Stato

The refugee was exhausted from the effort of holding onto the truck by the time he was found.

Italian teenagers to get €500 'culture bonus'
The scheme will cost the govenment €290 million. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Italians who turn 18 this year can spend the money on books, concert tickets, trips to the cinema and more.

Venice and the perennial woe of unruly tourists
Venice attracts some 22 million people a year. Photo: Moyann Brenn

"One or two fools do not represents everyone," the city's councillor for tourism told The Local.

Rome wants to send its rubbish to Austria
Rome wants to send 70,000 tonnes of household waste to Austria. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Austria has received a request from Rome authorities to help them deal with the Italian capital’s ongoing rubbish crisis by taking some of it off their hands.

Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
2,515
jobs available