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UNHCR #WithRefugees petition heads to UN Secretary-General

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UNHCR #WithRefugees petition heads to UN Secretary-General

17 September 2016 Also available in:
(L-R) President of the General Assembly #70 Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly #71 Peter Thomson, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi attend UNHCR #WithRefugees petition handover at UN General Assembly Hall at United Nations on September 16, 2016 in New York City. ; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today received a petition – #WithRefugees – from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, signed by more than 1.2 million people expressing solidarity with millions of people across the world driven from their homes by conflict and persecution. Taking receipt of the appeal at the UN General Assembly in New York, together with Assembly President Peter Thomson, Ban noted the global scope of support for refugees. The petition calls on representatives of the 193 governments attending the Summit to make sure all refugee children can go to school; that all refugees have a safe place to live and that all refugees can work and contribute to their local community.
From left to right, President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi attend UNHCR WithRefugees petition handover at UN General Assembly. © Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images/UNHCR

16 September 2016 – Just days before the 19 September Summit for Refugees and Migrants, at a ceremony in New York today, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepted a 1.3 million signature-strong petition that expressed solidarity with millions of refugees.

“We cannot let innocent people be buried by indifference,” said Mr. Ban said in his remarks to the moving ceremony. “We cannot let heartlessness expose so many children to deadly risk […] We stand with refugees. The summit next week is for them,” he said.

The #WithRefugees petition was launched on 19 June, World Refugee Day by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Secretary-General underscored that the refugees are merely asking for what all people deserve, namely a home, a school and a chance.

He thanked and credited the UN for offering global solidarity when he, himself, was a six-year old refugee, saying without which “I would not be standing here.”

The UN chief, who has proudly stood with refugees around the world in camps and reception centres, said the upcoming Summit is a foundation to build a stronger global response and that the Organization was mobilizing all partners.

“Today,” he concluded, “we declare our commitment to share the responsibility. That will benefit everyone. Let us help refugees and create a better future for all.”

The handover featured a live performance by award-winning slam poet Emi Mahmoud on her ode to drowned Syrian refugee toddler Alan Kurdi.

UNHCR supporter Ben Stiller recited the petition and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, model and former refugee Alek Wek made comments.

After making history at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Olympic Refugee Team swimmer Yusra Mardini from Syria and runner Yiech Pur Biel from South Sudan attended the event. United States-resettled refugees also threw their support behind the petition, speaking on the appeal’s main asks.

(Extracted from original post on UN News Centre:



The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.