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Jolie, Clinton join UNHCR chief António Guterres in live video link to mark World Refugee Day

News Stories, 18 June 2010

© UNHCR/B.Diab
High Commissioner António Guterres talks to an Iraqi refugee in Al Hassakeh before taking part in the live event.

WASHINGTON, DC, United States, June 18 (UNHCR) UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie, High Commissioner António Guterres and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took part Friday in a unique live video event linking four locations around the world to mark World Refugee Day.

The event was held in the Benjamin Franklin room on the top floor of the US State Department in Washington, DC, and included participants linked from Ecuador, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria.

Addressing the audience of 250 people, media and those watching via the internet, Clinton said: "I hope we can use this day to honour the courage and resilience of the millions of refuges around the world who push forward each and every day with the hope that tomorrow might bring a return home or the hope of a better life. I certainly intend to remain committed to making that hope a reality."

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie joined the proceedings from the remote community of Berranca Bermeja in northern Ecuador, which is home to a small group of Colombian refugees.

Jolie, who first visited Ecuador for UNHCR in 2002, said the refugees, though isolated, were now receiving regular support and assistance from the refugee agency. "I have noticed a great deal of change here," she said. "UNHCR has done extraordinary work. The field officers have been getting out into the Amazon and going up and down the river. They've registered now 50,000 refugees who are so grateful. It's a very moving story."

Sitting among refugees in Al Hassakeh governorate (province) in northern Syria, High Commissioner Guterres praised the generosity of the Syrian people who continue to host more than 1 million refugees from Iraq. In contrast, he said, "increasing numbers of countries are closing their borders" to refugees.

The programme also linked to a settlement for internally displaced people near the town of Dungu in north eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nearly 2 million Congolese have fled their homes as a result of continuing violence. UNHCR staffer Jorge Holly spoke to a man whose family had fled their home to escape violence by the Lord's Resistance Army, a brutal Ugandan militia group infamous for its attacks on civilians.




The High Commissioner

António Guterres, who joined UNHCR on June 15, 2005, is the UN refugee agency's 10th High Commissioner.

Finding home: UNHCR honours uprooted people on World Refugee Day

It's said that a man's home is his castle; a place of security and comfort. But for millions of people, home is a distant memory. It is a place they have had to flee to escape violence and persecution. Many end up living in a makeshift shelter or tent, either in their own country or in a foreign land. More than half of the refugees of concern to UNHCR now live in deprived urban areas.

Most dream of going home, others hope for resettlement and some are able to integrate in host countries. All want to have a real home where they can build a new life - a castle of their own.

UNHCR strives to find durable solutions for them. In 2008, almost 2 million refugees and internally displaced people were able to go back home and some 65,548 departed to 26 resettlement countries. Moreover, UNHCR estimates that around 1.1 million refugees have been granted citizenship in their country of asylum over the past decade.

On World Refugee Day, UNHCR recognized the strength and resolve of forcibly uprooted people and reaffirms its commitment to protect and find solutions for them.

Finding home: UNHCR honours uprooted people on World Refugee Day

2015 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presents the Nansen medal to Afghan refugee, Aqeela Asifi in Geneva, Switzerland.

Asifi, 49, has dedicated her life to bringing education to refugee girls in Pakistan. Despite minimal resources and significant cultural challenges, Asifi - a former teacher who fled from Kabul with her family in 1992 - has guided over a thousand refugee girls through primary education in the Kot Chandana refugee village in Mianwali, Pakistan.

Before she arrived, strict cultural traditions kept most girls at home. But she was determined to give these girls a chance and began teaching just a handful of pupils in a makeshift school tent.

UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award honours extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced, and names Eleanor Roosevelt, Graça Machel and Luciano Pavarotti among its laureates. Speakers and performers at today's award ceremony include UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ger Duany, Unicef Goodwill Ambassador and singer Angelique Kidjo and visual artist Cedric Cassimo.

Afghanistan is the largest, most protracted refugee crisis in the world. Over 2.6 million Afghans currently live in exile and over half of them are children.

2015 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

Victims of Conflict in Nigeria Find Safety in Cameroon Camp

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visited Cameroon in late March to put a spotlight on the situation there of tens of thousands of refugees from Nigeria. These people have escaped mounting violence by insurgents in the north-east of their country. Among the places that Guterres visited during his March 24-25 visit is the Minawao Refugee Camp, where many of the uprooted have been relocated.

Situated some 120 kilometres from the dangerous border area with Nigeria in Cameroon's Far North region, Minawao camp is currently home to 33,000 Nigerian refugees, mainly from Borno state. Many of the arrivals are traumatized and in need of material and psycho-social help. They told the High Commissioner of losing their homes and belongings as well as members of their families. Some were injured. In total, an estimated 74,000 Nigerians have found refuge in Cameroon while cross-border incursions from Nigeria have displaced 96,000 Cameroonians. UNHCR photographer Hélène Caux also visited Minawao to hear the individual stories.

Victims of Conflict in Nigeria Find Safety in Cameroon Camp

Turkey: World Refugee Day visitsPlay video

Turkey: World Refugee Day visits

On World Refugee Day the UNHCR High Commissioner, António Guterres, along with Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, travelled to southeastern Turkey, the home of hundreds of thousands of refugees from conflicts in Syria and Iraq. They were in the midyat refugee camp to see conditions for these people and to issue a warning to the world.
Kuwait donating money to UNHCRPlay video

Kuwait donating money to UNHCR

Kuwait has donated just over US$120 million to the UN refugee agency to assist its efforts in dealing with the humanitarian situation resulting from the crisis in Syria. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres warmly thanked and praised the government of Kuwait and its people for the extreme generosity when he received a cheque for the amount at a ceremony on Wednesday evening in Geneva.
Kenya: High Commissioner Visits Dadaab Refugee CampPlay video

Kenya: High Commissioner Visits Dadaab Refugee Camp

Last week the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres completed a visit to Kenya and Somalia where he met with the Presidents of the two countries, as well as Somali refugees and returnees.