In his message commemorating World Refugee Day, which is celebrated on June 20 every year, the UN Secretary General noted that the world's responses to refugees must be grounded in its shared values of responsibility sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights, among others.
“In the past year, in many countries and regions, we have witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of compassion and solidarity, as ordinary people and communities have opened their homes and their hearts to refugees, and states have welcomed new arrivals even while already hosting large numbers of refugees; this solidarity and compassion are at the heart of our collective response,” Ki-Moon noted.
He disclosed that forced displacement has reached unprecedented levels, with more than 65 million people uprooted from their homes globally as new and recurring conflicts, and evermore disturbing forms of violence and persecution are driving people to flee in search of safety within their own countries, or to cross international borders as asylum seekers or refugees.
The UN Secretary General also observed that there are others that are living in long-term exile, as solutions to protracted conflicts remain elusive.
He revealed that at the end of 2015, there were 21.3 million refugees, 3.2 million people in the process of seeking asylum, and 40.8 million people internally displaced within their own countries.
According to him, World Refugee Day is a moment for taking stock of the devastating impact of war and persecution on the lives of those forced to flee, and honoring their courage and resilience.
“It is also a moment for paying tribute to the communities and States that receive
and host them, often in remote border regions affected by poverty, instability and underdevelopment, and beyond the gaze of international attention,” Moon stressed.
“Nine out of 10 refugees are today living in poor and middle income countries close to situations of conflict; last year, more than 1 million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe across the Mediterranean, in unseaworthy dinghies and flimsy boats as thousands did not make it,” the UN SG disclosed.
He, however, blamed this tragic testimony to the collective failure of leaders of the world to properly address the plight of the victims.
Meanwhile, the UN SG has indicated that divisive political rhetoric on asylum and migration issues, rising xenophobia, and restrictions on access to asylum have become increasingly visible in certain regions, and the spirit of shared responsibility has been replaced by a hate filled narrative of intolerance.
“We see a worrisome increase in the use of detention and in the construction of fences and other barriers; with anti-refugee rhetoric so loud, it is sometimes difficult to hear the voices of welcome, but these do exist, all around the world.
In a related development, the UN boss has disclosed that on September 19 this year, the UN High-Level Plenary of the General Assembly on Addressing Large
Movements of Refugees and Migrants will offer a historic opportunity to agree a global compact, with a commitment towards collective action and greater shared responsibility for refugees at its core.