This year’s World Refugee Day commemoration scheduled for Saturday under the theme: “Step With Refugees” calls for more public attention to the plight of the scores of millions of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) worldwide, who had been forced to flee their homes due to wars, disasters, conflict and persecution.
First marked in 2001, the World Refugee Day is commemorated every June 20, to reflect on the most pressing issues that refugees and displaced people faced. According to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says as at the end of 2018, there were about 70.8 million people around the world that had been forced from their home by conflict and persecution; among whom were nearly 30 million refugees, over half of whom were under the age of 18. “Every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror,” UNHCR proclaimed adding that many refugees were in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters with two thirds of them living in “situations of seemingly unending exile”.
UNHCR say these people have been forced to flee and make extraordinary efforts to survive whilst enduring long, dangerous and difficult journeys. “I believe we have to invest in all human beings, especially the most vulnerable, which happens to be refugees and their host communities, which often bear the burdens,” said Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands. “We need to focus on what refugees can be doing, treating them as agents of change and enabling access to shape their own destiny.”
The Refugee Agency says the Global Compact on Refugees, which aims to strengthen the international response to large movements of refugees and protracted refugee situations, had put in place a new comprehensive refugee response model which envisions a more predictable and sustainable support to ease pressures on countries hosting refugees and enhance opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant. “At a time when there are more and more global crises forcing people from their homes, we are coming together to show our solidarity and to honor their resilience and determination to keep their families safe,” says UNHCR.
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