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On Refugee Day…

Europe, North America

On Refugee Day…

Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.

– Ban ki-moon, Secretary General, United Nations on World Refugee Day 2015.

World Refugee Day is observed every year on 20 June in order to arouse public awareness about the plight of refugees throughout the world. On this day, an appeal is made by the United Nations to the people of the world for support to millions of families who have lost their homes due to violence, war or persecution. On this day, the world commemorates the strength, courage and resilience of millions of refugees and takes a pledge to help the refugees ldwide to rebuild the quality of their lives through various relief and rehabilitation programmes. The question survives as to whether such assistance is really adequate.

Since 1951, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has been providing immediate material support and other humanitarian aid to the refugees. But UNHCR’s efforts need to be backed up by decisive action on the part of governments and private organizations. Unless the horrific violence and civil wars end, the involuntary displacement of people cannot be stopped.

Around the world today, there are about 60 million forcibly displaced persons. Of these, 38 million are internally displaced but not stateless, and 20 million are refugees who are stateless and 2 million are asylum seekers. Each day thousands more follow. One in every 130 persons is either a refugee, or internally displaced or seeking asylum. Further, there are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees who are not under the UNHRC’s mandate. More than 60 per cent of all refugees come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Sudan. More than 40,000 people from Africa have risked the Mediterranean crossing on overcrowded and towing boats and reached the Italian coast at Lampedusa this year. Of them all are not refugees. Many are in search of a better life. About 2000 boat people have died in the attempt. In every wave, refugees are intertwined with economic migrants. Fear of immigrants has gripped the whole of Europe. Only Germany has shown compassion, courage and determination to give them asylum. So far, EU has not been able to formulate a sensible migration management policy consistent with the principle of non-refoulement.

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