World Refugee Day in Athens
World Refugee Day in Athens

World has fundamental obligation to shelter those fleeing war

By Chad Anthony Williams Time of article published Jun 20, 2020

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NEW YORK  - All countries have a fundamental obligation to protect the nearly 80 million people worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution, and other crises, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in a message marking World Refugee Day on Saturday.

Nearly 80 million women, children, and men around the world had been forced from their homes as refugees or internally displaced people. Even more shocking was that 10 million of these people fled in the past year alone, Guterres said.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency's (UNHCR) annual global trends report, more than one percent of the world's population is displaced, which equates to one in every 97 people.

"On World Refugee Day, we pledge to do everything in our power to end the conflict and persecution that drive these appalling numbers. Today, we also recognise the generosity and humanity of host communities and countries that often struggle with their own economic and security concerns. We owe these countries our thanks, our support, and our investment," Guterres said.  

Everyone had to work to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime, and to implement the pledges made at the Global Refugee Forum, so that refugees and host communities received the support they needed.

This year, the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic posed an additional threat to refugees and displaced people, who were among the most vulnerable. But, refugees and displaced people were also prominent among those stepping up to make a difference on the frontlines of the response to the pandemic.

"From camps in Bangladesh to hospitals in Europe, refugees are working as nurses, doctors, scientists, teachers, and in other essential roles, protecting themselves and giving back to the communities that host them. Today and every day, we stand in unity and solidarity with refugees and recognise our fundamental obligation to shelter those fleeing war and persecution," Guterres said.

The UNHCR has partnered with Twitter and a young Ivorian graphic artist, O’Plérou Grebet, to launch the 2020 World Refugee Day emoji. The emoji consists of two different coloured hands linked together to form a heart, symbolising solidarity and diversity.

According to the agency, the emoji will be associated on Twitter with the #WorldRefugeeDay hashtags through to June 23.

- African News Agency (ANA) 

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