The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is operating in an era of “unachievable peace,” which followed an “unwinnable war,” UNHCR Sadako Ogata said at Tokyo’s Japan National Press Club on Friday.

Although peace treaties have been concluded, refugees in former Yugoslavia remain refugees within their own countries, and UNHCR has been striving to secure their safety, she said.

Ogata pointed out that the presence of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces is necessary to secure the safety of the refugees, but as the ethnic map has changed dramatically, refugees cannot return home if they have become minorities in their area. “Some Japanese say that they don’t understand the situation in these areas, but I hope more Japanese will be interested in the issue,” she said.

In Rwanda, Ogata said UNHCR is trying to establish an institution to allow refugee women and children to be separated from former soldiers. UNHCR has been criticized for providing identical aid to both groups. “Many countries react in emergencies, but when things seem to calm down, international cooperation slows. I feel there is a need to make a system that operates in these unstable times,” she said.

The UNHCR is currently taking care of about 23 million refugees all over the world, she said. Ogata, who will finish her second term in December, said she is willing to serve a third if elected this fall.

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