News Release

UNHCR and UNICEF visit

On 21 October 2016 Bishop Gérald Caussé, Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife Valérie met with officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Geneva, Switzerland. They were accompanied by Elder Robert and Sister Joy Orton, serving in Geneva as Church representatives at the United Nations, and Gilles François, Church welfare manager for the Europe Area.

Ms. Kelly Clements, deputy high commissioner of the United Nations refugee agency warmly thanked Bishop Caussé for the generous support from the Church. During the meeting at the global headquarters of the UNHCR, Ms. Clements and Bishop Caussé agreed on the need to develop programs that foster self-reliance, while also collaborating when responding to emergencies in crisis areas. When asked how the Church could help, Ms. Clements asked for the prayers of the members and also for support to share the message that in times of forced displacement, national governments but also local authorities, civil society groups, faith communities and the private sector should pool their forces to respond to refugees.

The UNHCR was created in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. They had three years to complete their work and then disband. Today, over 65 years later, the organization is still hard at work, protecting and assisting refugees around the world, as there are an estimated 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide today.

UNHCR is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, principally from governments but also from inter-governmental organizations, corporations and individuals. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated over several million dollars to the UNHCR since January 2005. The Church also provided in-kind contributions, including relief items such as refugee housing units or tents.

Later the same day, a meeting took place at the world headquarters of UNICEF. Bishop and Sister Caussé met with David Evans, chief of global philanthropy, and Sarah Crowe, the spokesperson for the UNICEF Geneva Crisis Cell. Leslie Goldman, vice president of the UNICEF United States Fund was also attending the meeting. Ms. Crowe presented the work accomplished by UNICEF in regards to the current refugee crisis in Europe. The action of UNICEF however reaches far beyond this crisis and additional partnerships will be explored in other areas of the world. In Latin America notably, strong local membership can also play a role in collaborative efforts between the Church and this organization.

“I am so happy that the Church is so well considered by these major players. There was a really good spirit attending these meetings, and that was a testimony to me that we should continue to support these organizations as they provide assistance to the poor and the needy around the world” said Bishop Caussé.

UNICEF is a leading humanitarian and development agency working globally for the rights of every child. Child rights begin with safe shelter, nutrition, protection from disaster and conflict and traverse the life cycle: pre-natal care for healthy births, clean water and sanitation, health care and education. The organization was founded in 1947, and has been working to improve children's lives ever since. UNICEF has many programs that reach out to the different needs of children all over the world. 

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