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UNHCR and The Partition Museum Come Together to Celebrate India’s Humanitarian Legacy

Speeches and statements

UNHCR and The Partition Museum Come Together to Celebrate India’s Humanitarian Legacy

14 December 2023
Panelists for UDHR event by UNHCR India

The event organized to commemorate the 75th Human Rights Day focused on India’s commitment and generosity in providing asylum to people forced to flee


New Delhi, 14 December 2023- UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Partition Museum co-organized an event on the occasion of Human Rights Day to commemorate the 75th year of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The event focused on India’s commitment and generosity in providing asylum to people forced to flee through the years.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Shombi Sharp, the United Nations Resident Coordinator said, “Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. right to life, liberty, to express freely and to seek safe asylum are also human rights.

He further reaffirmed the UN in India’s commitment to supporting the Government of India in this regard, especially through the Government of India – UN Cooperation Framework which represents the UN’s collective support to India, in line with the national vision for development – promoting gender equality, youth empowerment and human rights.

The event began with a panel discussion comprising dignitaries from the United Nations, IGNCA Ministry of Culture, and a senior conservation architect which was followed by oral history testimonies provided by two survivors of the Partition in India.

Lady Kishwar Desai, the Chairperson of the Partition Museum emphasized the importance of learning from the past to ensure a better future. “At the Partition Museum, Delhi, we are indeed honoured to collaborate with UNHCR on Human Rights Day to remember all those who lost so much due to discrimination of some kind, be it religion, caste or colour.

The Partition Museums in Amritsar and Delhi commemorate the traumatic events of 1947 when millions became refugees overnight because divisions were created between them. She added that the main message of the museum is that ‘this must not happen again,’ and in both museums, the last gallery is ‘The Gallery of Hope’, dedicated to a better future, where all communities can live together in peace.”

Prof (Dr.) Ramesh Gaur, Dean & Director - Kalanidhi Division, IGNCA (Ministry of Culture), reiterated the need for preserving and archiving the memories, so that we can inform our future. “Efforts are being made in the field of digital archiving. While challenges, we are committed."

The Indian partition in 1947 marked one of the most significant and tragic events in modern history, resulting in widespread displacement. This event caused one of the largest mass migrations in history, with millions of people forced to leave their homes, belongings, and livelihoods in the wake of violent conflicts and communal riots.

Highlighting the record displacement worldwide, UNHCR Chief of Mission, Ms. Areti Sianni said, “The number of displaced people in the world is now over 114 million. Of that total, over 36 million are refugees, and 62 million are displaced within their own country.

“India since independence has given refuge to several people from neighbouring countries. Today, as we celebrate India’s rich humanitarian legacy, we must also engage in dialogue and find solutions for lasting peace. On the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are reminded of the urgency to continue working towards upholding the rights of all human beings. We are also reminded of our common responsibility to ensure that refugees are treated with humanity, that their rights are respected and protected, and that they are provided with adequate assistance and solutions,” said Ms. Sianni.