"UNHCR has a reliable and responsible partner in Montenegro. The country will continue to strive to improve the position of refugees,” - President of Montenegro
On 5 December, UNHCR in Montenegro commemorated its 30th anniversary – 30 years of serving refugees, asylum seekers, people at risk of statelessness and stateless people in the country. Both the President of Montenegro and the Head of the Parliament participated in the event. Over 100 guests attended, including the resident embassies, UN colleagues, representatives of international and governmental institutions and the non-governmental organizations (NGO) sector. The exceptional level of attendance testifies to the excellent cooperation UNHCR has developed with various stakeholders in the country over the last 30 years.
Conversely, the event presented a unique opportunity to recall the long-standing and fruitful cooperation with the Montenegrin state institutions and numerous local, national and international partners, as well as the many joint contributions and successful stories in achieving protection and solutions for people UNHCR serves.
The opening remarks were given by the President, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNHCR Representative. The remarks were followed by a choir and dance performance by young and talented refugee children who not only stole the show but showed that refugees can indeed integrate and give back to the communities that host them. After the official ceremony, Iranian and Cuban refugees cooked their traditional dishes for those attending the event.
Milo Djukanovic, the President of Montenegroaddressed those attending the event, highlighting that UNHCR’s irreplaceable strength and support to Montenegrin institutions for the last 30 years was instrumental in assisting refugees in the country. The President also emphasized the exceptional cooperation with UNHCR.
“Three decades of partnership, selfless dedication and constant efforts in providing support and safety for the most vulnerable – for people deprived of the warmth of home, security and their country, exiled or forced to leave their homes under the onslaught of war, intolerance or hatred. UNHCR has a reliable and responsible partner in Montenegro and the country will continue to strive to improve the position of refugees,” said Mr. Milo Djukanovic, the President of Montenegro.
Mr. Jean-Yves Bouchardy, Representative to Montenegro, , commended the country’s unwavering commitment to its open-door policy since 1992, showing exceptional and exemplary compassion for all those who were forced to flee their homes during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 90s, as well as for refugees from Ukraine in 2022. Jean-Yves also highlighted the efforts in building up the country’s asylum system, as well as the results achieved in the eradication of statelessness.
“The awe-inspiring results Montenegro and UNHCR have achieved jointly over the past 30 years testify to the high ambitions we have for protecting persons forced to flee. They are a very real testimony that with the right support from international actors, small countries like Montenegro can make a tremendous contribution in addressing global challenges and saving people’s lives. We recognize then Montenegro as a compelling reminder that the people of small countries can have the biggest of hearts,” said Mr. Jean-Yves Bouchardy, UNHCR Representative in Montenegro.
Peter Lundberg, UN Resident Coordinator in Montenegro, expressed gratitude to UNHCR for the continuous efforts in helping people forced to flee for the last three decades in Montenegro. Discussing the synergy between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and refugee protection, Peter noted that the vision of Agenda 2030 cannot be realized without considering the rights and needs of refugees who are most impacted by unfortunate global events. He commended the country for demonstrating remarkable commitment in providing safety for refugees.
“Montenegro has demonstrated remarkable dedication to refugee protection over the last 30 years. With the support from UNHCR, the country has earned a well-deserved reputation of safe harbor for refugees, upholding humanitarian principles of refugee protection. Since the break-up of former Yugoslavia to this day, Montenegro has been a place of refuge for people forced to flee, diligently working to ensure effective measures and actions are in place to provide them access to safety,” said Mr. Peter Lundberg, UN Resident Coordinator in Montenegro.
After the opening remarks, the young and talented Roma refugee children stole the show with their performances, showing that refugees can indeed integrate and give back to the communities that host them.
After the official ceremony, the Iranian and Cuban refugees cooked their traditional dishes for the participants and other refugees attending the event.