António Guterres started his term today as the head of the United Nations refugee agency by pledging his commitment to the protection of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the world.
Addressing the staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Mr. Guterres said he had assured Secretary-General Kofi Annan that he would be "firm in asserting the core values of the office and that refugees and states alike should expect a principled, effective and committed UNHCR."
He plans to go on his first field mission next week to Uganda, where he will spend World Refugee Day on 20 June with refugees in a camp in the north of the country.
Formerly Prime Minister of Portugal and a founding member of the Portuguese Refugee Council, Mr. Guterres, 56, succeeds Ruud Lubbers of the Netherlands, who resigned on 20 February amid a media furore over allegations against him of sexual harassment, which he denied.
In his five-year term as the tenth High Commissioner, Mr. Guterres will head a staff of 6,000 people who assist more than 17 million refugees and other vulnerable people in 115 countries.