A selection of UN TV programmes, webcasts and video clips on issues in the news

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Messages for World Refugees Day 2013

World Refugee Day 2013 Theme : "Take 1 minute to support a family forced to flee."

United Nations Secretary-General's Message for 2013 :

The number of forcibly displaced people in the world continues to rise.  There are now more than 45 million refugees and internally displaced people – the highest level in nearly 20 years.  Last year alone, someone was forced to abandon their home every four seconds.

War remains the dominant cause, with the crisis in Syria a leading instance of major displacement.  More than half of all refugees listed in a new report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees come from just five war-affected countries:  Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.  Major new displacements have also been occurring in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Figures give only a glimpse of this enormous human tragedy.  Every day, conflict tears apart the lives of thousands of families.  They may be forced to leave loved ones behind or become separated in the chaos of war.  Children suffer the most.  Nearly half of all refugees are below age 18, and a growing number are fleeing on their own.

Forced displacement also has a significant economic, social and, at times, political impact on the communities that provide shelter.  There is a growing and deep imbalance in the burden of hosting refugees, with poor countries taking in the vast majority of the world’s uprooted people.  Developing countries host 81 per cent of the world’s refugees, compared to 70 per cent a decade ago.

Finding durable solutions for the displaced will require more solidarity and burden-sharing by the international community.  On World Refugee Day, I call on the international community to intensify efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts, and to help achieve peace and security so that families can be reunited and refugees can return home.

Ban Ki-moon



Statement for World Refugee Day 2013 by António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

I have come to Jordan on this World Refugee Day to stand by the people of Syria in their time of acute need. I also want to salute Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and all the countries in the region for being generous havens that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
In all the years I have worked on behalf of refugees, this is the most worrying I have ever witnessed. The needs of these people are overwhelming; their anguish is unbearable. Today, there are over 1.6 million registered Syrian refugees. More than one million of them arrived just in the last six months, and thousands more come every day, seeking places to stay, sustenance, someone who will listen and help them heal.
Inside Syria, the scale of human suffering is beyond comprehension. The Syria we once knew is no more. In the heart of a turbulent region, the country was host to over one million Iraqi and half a million Palestinian refugees. I think of the Syrians I met over the years during many visits to see Iraqi refugees. Never could they have imagined that such violence would overtake them that they would become refugees themselves desperate, destitute and forsaken.

I worry that an entire nation is being left to self-destruct as it empties itself of its people. I am dismayed to hear of the trauma children face. Nightmares define their waking lives as much as they haunt their sleep. School is a distant memory.

Here in Jordan, over 500,000 registered Syrian refugees live in safety now. The Zaatari Refugee Camp has become Jordan's fifth largest city and the second largest refugee camp in the world. There is hardly a town or a city in Jordan that is not host to Syrians. It is much the same in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. This hospitality is a remarkable demonstration of humanity against a backdrop of depravity.

With no clear political resolution in sight, this civil war is in real danger of sliding into a regional conflict. It is no longer fantasy to foresee an explosion in the Middle East that the world would not be able to cope with.
We will continue to do everything we can to aid and alleviate the suffering of Syrians. But the cascade of death and destruction is spreading fast, and I repeat my call on those with political responsibilities to overcome their divisions and come together to do everything in their power to stop this war.

António Guterres



Statement by the World Food Programme Executive Director


For over two years, the world has witnessed millions of Syrians fleeing their homes, escaping from violence in search of a safe haven. Many families have been forced to move more than once, bringing only what they can carry. The needs of conflict-affected Syrians are huge, almost too big to comprehend: by the end of the year, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) aims to provide food assistance to seven million people, most of whom are either internally displaced or taking refuge in neighbouring countries.

Syrians are not alone in feeling the devastation of displacement, whether within their own country or across borders. Every day, I work with colleagues who are on the ground in some of the most remote and dangerous places in the world. They remind me, as we are all reminded on World Refugee Day (20 June), that every woman, man and child who has left behind homes, family, jobs, education and lives in search of security and safety deserve our attention and, most importantly, our assistance.

Last year, I spoke to a Malian woman receiving WFP food in the Menghaize refugee camp in Niger. She had fled Mali with her children amidst the sound of gunshots; she told me she missed her home, but at least she and her children were safe. In Rwanda, refugees from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have given up everything to escape ongoing clashes. In Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees from Myanmar seek safe haven from communal violence. Ecuador hosts the largest number of refugees in the Western hemisphere, and more pour in from Colombia every month. Kenya continues to host large populations of Somalis. All still unable to return home.

In 2012, WFP provided food assistance to almost 10 million people forced to move – refugees, internally displaced people and those who have been fortunate enough to return home again. This food, along with the relief provided by our partners, brings some security to otherwise uncertain lives.
As an international community, we must continue to advocate on behalf of displaced people everywhere. Whether fleeing conflict, natural disaster or hunger, they must be at the front of our minds.
Ertharin Cousin

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