WORLD REFUGEE DAY – June 20th

“We must work together to mobilize the political will and leadership to prevent and end the conflicts that trigger refugee flows. […] Despite budget constraints everywhere, we must not turn away from those in need. Refugees leave because they have no choice. We must choose to help.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Theme for 2012: Refugees have no choice. You do.

THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S REFUGEES 2012 – “In Search of Solidarity”

For years, many countries and regions have been holding their own Refugee Days and even Weeks. One of the most widespread is Africa Refugee Day, which is celebrated on 20 June in several countries.

The UN General Assembly, on 4 December 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.

The General Assembly therefore decided that 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.

This year the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, will start marking World Refugee Day by rolling out a striking new campaign, “Dilemmas,” which is a development of the award-winning “1” campaign launched last year. “Dilemmas” depicts some of the tough choices facing refugees, helping the public to empathize with, and understand, their dilemma.


Refugees and forcible Displaced Persons

There are several types of forcibly displaced persons. But all one one thing in common:

Every minute eight people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.

If conflict threatened your family, what would you do? Stay and risk your lives? Or try to flee, and risk kidnap, rape or torture?

For many the choice is between the horrific or something worse.


Refugees

A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”, according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.

Developing countries hosted four-fifths of the world’s refugees. The 48 Least Developed Countries provided asylum to 2.3 million refugees.

Asylum seeker

Asylum seekers say they are refugees and have fled their homes as refugees do, but their claim to refugee status is not yet definitively evaluated in the country to which they fled.

Internally Displaced Persons

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are people who have not crossed an international border but have moved to a different region than the one they call home within their own country.


Stateless Persons

Stateless persons do not have a recognized nationality and do not belong to any country.

Statelessness situations are usually caused by discrimination against certain groups. Their lack of identification — a citizenship certificate — can exclude them from access to important government services, including health care, education or employment.


Returnees

Returnees are former refugees who return to their own countries or regions of origin after time in exile. Returnees need continuous support and reintegration assistance to ensure that they can rebuild their lives at home.


Helping Refugees

1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol

Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol help protect them. They are the only global legal instruments explicitly covering the most important aspects of a refugee’s life. According to their provisions, refugees deserve, as a minimum, the same standards of treatment enjoyed by other foreign nationals in a given country and, in many cases, the same treatment as nationals.

The 1951 Convention contains a number of rights and also highlights the obligations of refugees towards their host country. The cornerstone of the 1951 Convention is the principle of non-refoulement. According to this principle, a refugee should not be returned to a country where he or she faces serious threats to his or her life or freedom. This protection may not be claimed by refugees who are reasonably regarded as a danger to the security of the country, or having been convicted of a particularly serious crime, are considered a danger to the community.

The rights contained in the 1951 Convention include:

The right not to be expelled, except under certain, strictly defined conditions;
The right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State;
The right to work;
The right to housing;
The right to education;
The right to public relief and assistance;
The right to freedom of religion;
The right to access the courts;
The right to freedom of movement within the territory;
The right to be issued identity and travel documents.

Some basic rights, including the right to be protected from refoulement, apply to all refugees. A refugee becomes entitled to other rights the longer they remain in the host country, which is based on the recognition that the longer they remain as refugees, the more rights they need.



Thinking of You: Millions will be thinking of the displaced, like this boy in Pakistan, on World Refugee Day.

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