As the share of refugees in the world’s population hits an all-time high and the war in Ukraine has caused the fastest and largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II, UN chief António Guterres , called on all States to defend the integrity of the international protection regime, and described the current situation as “a gloomy picture dishonoring the times”.
Adding to the Ukrainian drama the women, children and men fleeing conflicts elsewhere in the world, the total number of forcibly displaced people reaches 100 million, he recalled.
This year, World Refugee Day is an opportunity for the Secretary-General to reaffirm “a fundamental principle of our common humanity”, namely that “everyone has the right to seek safety – regardless of who they are, where of origin or when she is forced to flee. »
“Like every human being, refugees should be treated with respect”
International law is final, “the right to asylum is a fundamental human right” and “people fleeing violence or persecution must be able to cross borders in complete safety”, insisted Mr. Guterres. They should not face discrimination at borders or be unfairly denied refugee status or asylum on grounds of race, religion, gender or country of origin. They cannot be forced to return home if their life or freedom is in danger. “And like every human being, they should be treated with respect. »
Mr. Guterres added that providing security to refugees around the world was only a first step. Once out of danger, refugees need prospects, opportunities to recover, learn, work and thrive; they must also be able to return home if they wish or “rebuild their lives elsewhere, in safety and dignity”, he continued, recalling that refugees bring “renewal” to their host communities, “contributed to their prosperity” and created “a rich cultural diversity”.
The example of the Ivory Coast
In a message the same day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi celebrated “the fortitude of millions of people who, although displaced and dispossessed, are striving tirelessly to improve their lives , that of their family and their community”.
Commenting on this unprecedented number of refugees counted by the UN, he explained that “the war in Ukraine, as well as new or continuing emergencies in countries such as Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo”, had contributed to this “staggering figure”.
Mr. Grandi lamented a lack of solutions, with forced displacement outnumbering the solutions offered to those on the run.
To remedy this, he called on world leaders to work together to find “lasting and humane solutions”, citing as an example Côte d’Ivoire, where he is now, emerging from a bitter conflict that has forced hundreds thousands of people to flee.
More than 310,000 Ivorian refugees – or 96% of those displaced – have voluntarily returned home over the past decade, and by working together, countries in the region have taken the initiative to integrate those who choose to stay, regularizing their stay in their new homes and communities.
The High Commissioner called on countries to learn from the Ivorian example. “The world has a choice: either it unites to reverse the trend of persecution, violence and war, or it accepts that the 21st century will be one of forced displacement. We all know what is the right – and smart – choice to make,” he said.
Visit of actor Ben Stiller to Poland
American actor and director Ben Stiller, Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, appealed to him for compassion and support for refugees during a visit to Poland and Ukraine this week, where he met people recently forced to flee their homes.
“People told me how the war changed their lives, and explained to me that they had lost everything and that they were very worried about their future. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to meet refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world – from Syria, Central America, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Ukraine. In many parts of the world, war and violence destroy people’s lives and leave lasting trauma. Wherever and whenever it happens, no one chooses to flee their home. The quest for security is a right that must be respected for everyone,” said Mr. Stiller
In Rzeszow, Poland, the actor met Marina, who fled Kharkiv, Ukraine, with her three children two months ago, and now lives with her mother and sister, and found a job in a hair salon. manicure. His father was killed in Kharkiv by a bomb falling on his building. Marina’s mother now lives in Rzeszow with her and her sister. The family wants to return to Ukraine but their neighborhood has been devastated by the war. For now, they plan to stay in Poland, where they receive continued support from UNHCR.