Refugees who have shown the courage and conviction to overcome difficult obstacles to rebuild their lives are to be commended and deserve the same basic rights given to all humans, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Gueterres said in a statement released last Friday. The statement was made to mark World Refugee Day, 2008.
In his testimonial, Mr. Gueterres identified additional contributing factors that go beyond politics when it comes to the many challenges that today’s refugees face.
“Conflict today may be motivated by politics, but looking deeper it can also be about poverty, bad governance, climate change leading to competition for scarce resources,” he said. “Recent food and fuel shortages have had an immediate and dramatic effect on the poor and the dispossessed, including refugees and the internally displaced. Extreme price increases have generated instability and conflict in many places, with the very real potential of triggering more displacement.”
Mr. Gueterres claimed that prevention is the best solution to find ways to address the root causes of displacement.
“We need to better understand what triggers displacement,” he said, “why states are unable or unwilling to provide citizens with physical, material or legal security.”
The UN refugee agency, he continued, focuses on protecting the rights and well-being of refugees, which includes ensuring that refugees are given access to safety and life-saving assistance, as well as long term support during exile and eventual durable solutions for them to be able to rebuild their lives.
Despite all of this work, however, aiding refugees is becoming increasingly difficult in many parts of the world, Mr. Gueterres said.
“In some countries efforts to control illegal migration are failing to make a proper distinction between those who choose to move and those who are forced to flee because of persecution and violence,” he said. “And all too often, we see refugees turned away at the borders of countries where they had hoped to find safety and asylum.”
Mr. Gueterres proceeded to call out to the people in wealthy countries to be more aware of the fact that most of the world’s refugees are found in the developing world, with some of the largest migratory movements taking place within the South. He added that the developing nations that have shown extreme benevolence in accepting refugees deserve much credit and support.
To conclude the statement, Mr. Gueterres paid homage to the refugees of the world with a message of respect and praise.
“On this World Refugee Day, I would like to pay tribute to all of those who have been forcibly uprooted and to the many humanitarians who help them,” he said. “Ensuring that they get the protection they deserve is a noble cause because refugee rights are human rights – and rights that belong to us all.”