On 20 June World Refugee Day UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, supports further efforts by Central Asian states to include refugees in health systems, education and sport and through this to support their integration into the local communities.
As of the end of 2020 Central Asia (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) hosts 7,386 refugees and asylum seekers. Many but not all of them yet have access to medical care, including COVID-19 vaccination, education and work. UNHCR will continue cooperation with authorities and other partners on greater inclusion of all refugees in healthcare, education, employment and social protection to enable them to fully contribute to the development of their host communities.
“In 2021, we mark World Refugee Day amid a continuing pandemic, which has put a strain on health care, schools and our communities. But the pandemic has also taught us that we are stronger when we stand together. Given the opportunity to study and work, refugees will continue to contribute to a stronger, safer and more vibrant world,” said Hans Friedrich Schodder, UNHCR Representative for Central Asia.
Despite the pandemic, the number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations in 2020 rose to nearly 82.4 million people, according to UNHCR’s latest annual Global Trends report released on 18 June. This is a further four per cent increase on top of the already record-high 79.5 million at the end of 2019.
World Refugee Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the experiences of the millions of people forced to flee violence and persecution. But it is also a day to celebrate the fact that, with help from welcoming communities and kind neighbours, people can find the strength to heal, rebuild and even thrive.
This year, World Refugee Day is focused on the power of inclusion in health systems, education and sports. Health care because of importance of working together to recover from the pandemic. Education because of the millions of children whose education was interrupted by the pandemic. And sports because it transcends language and nationality to bring people together. In 2021, a team of 29 refugee athletes will join the Tokyo Games with the support of UNHCR and the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees.