GENEVA – The world’s 65 million refugees deserve praise for their resilience and courage and those who receive them should be recognized for welcoming them into their communities, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Tuesday.
In a statement marking World Refugee Day, Grandi said the uncertainties of today’s world could make people want to shut their eyes to the plight of those displaced by war, persecution and violence. However, he added that fear and exclusion would only lead to “barriers, alienation and despair”.
This week, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, issued its annual Global Trends report which showed the number of people displaced worldwide had risen to 65.6 million by the end of 2016, its highest level ever.
“On June 20, World Refugee Day, we honour the resilience and courage of more than 65 million people who have been forced to flee war, persecution and violence,” Grandi said.
“But it’s also a moment to recognise those communities and people around the world who receive refugees and the internally displaced in their midst, offering them a safe place, and welcoming them in their schools, their workplaces and their societies.”
Through its work, UNHCR has witnessed the “courage, tenacity and brilliance of refugees,” he added. “Having lost their homes, their work, and sometimes their families, they don’t give up, they find a way to start again.”
Inclusion required a “whole of society approach,” he said, linking “students, business leaders, athletes, activists, religious leaders, politicians and artists to share responsibility”.
Grandi said there were outstanding examples in villages, towns and cities in countries on every continent where refugees had been welcomed.
“In big and small ways, communities around the world are standing together #WithRefugees, recognising that when people work together, everyone wins.”
World Refugee Day provides “a moment to ask ourselves what each of us can do to overcome indifference or fear and embrace the idea of inclusion”, he said, concluding: “Because, when we stand together #WithRefugees, we also stand for respect and diversity for all.”