JUNE 20: WORLD REFUGEE DAY
By René Wadlow
In a June 18, 2015 report of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), it is stated that there are some 60 million people who have been displaced by war, violence, and persecution. Refugees are made, not born. They are made by repressive political regimes and conflicts.
The UNHCR report cites Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia as crucial situations as well as the refugees from Myanmar. While the events that trigger refugee outflows are specific to each particular setting, certain common characteristics are apparent. The immediate cause of flight is in most cases an imminent threat to life, liberty and security. The deliberate expulsion of an ethnic group may be the object of the conflict itself.
The staggering number of people displaced from their homes represents a major challenge to the emerging world society. The United Nations and its member governments are not able to deal adequately with this ever-increasing flow and so are turning more and more to non-governmental organizations to participate fully.
As citizens of the world, we know that we must work on the root causes of displacement as well as the integration of refugees into their new society. No-one can pretend that these efforts are easy. They require the good will and the comprehensive engagement of us all.
Prof. René Wadlow is President and Chief Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva of the Association of World Citizens.