By Haruna Gimba
United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres said refugees deserve support and solidarity, not closed borders and pushbacks.
That is UN chief reminder on Tuesday’s World Refugee Day, regarding the international community’s duty to assist and protect refugees.
With forced displacement at a record high of 110 million people around the world, Mr Guterres called for more solutions to resettle refugees and help them rebuild their lives. He also stressed the need for solidarity with host countries and communities.
“These are not numbers on a page”, said the UN chief. “These are individual women, children and men making difficult journeys – often facing violence, exploitation, discrimination and abuse.
“This Day reminds us of our duty to protect and support refugees – and our obligation to open more avenues of support.”
This year’s theme is “Hope Away From Home.” Mr Guterres – who led the UN refugee agency UNHCR for a decade, called on the international community to “harness the hope that refugees carry in their hearts.”
From Kenya, where he’s been visiting the vast Kakuma refugee camp, the current UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said that the world should step up investment and “commit to including refugees in our communities at all levels – in our schools, workplaces, health-care systems, and beyond.”
In a tweet, Mr Grandi deplored the fact that this year’s World Refugee Day coincided with the news that more than half a million people have now fled Sudan to neighbouring countries. “Guns must fall silent if we want this exodus to stop,” he said.
The UN migration agency IOM, issued a statement honouring the strength and resilience of those forced to flee from conflict, announcing that since 2001, agency teams have provided orientation training for more than one million on the move.
This includes some 700,000 refugees being resettled.
The head of the World Food Programme (WFP) Cindy McCain tweeted that conflict and climate shocks were pushing more and more people into hunger and homelessness.
“WFP is working with partners like UNHCR to deliver critical aid to millions of refugees in 40-plus countries. Today and every day, they deserve our continued support.”