Today is World Refugee Day, a day to honor the courage, strength and contribution of the millions of people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, war or persecution.
This is also a day when we ask people to remember the importance of welcoming newcomers to their communities. Those who have been forced to flee bring with them their cultures, their unique experiences and their hope, which make every community stronger and more vibrant.
We recently marked a grim milestone: the number of people forced to flee conflicts, wars, persecutions and human rights violations crossed the 100 million mark for the first time. This year alone, the war in Ukraine has displaced 7 million within the country and more than 5 million have fled across the country’s borders. In addition, violence is renewed in places where protracted crises continue, such as Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It is our collective responsibility to ensure that people have access to the shelter. But our responsibility does not end there. Once they are out of harm’s way, the people who have been forced to leave their homes and almost everything else behind need a chance to rebuild. This means letting newcomers go to school, find work, go to a doctor or seek mental health services.
It also means allowing those forced to flee to rebuild their lives free from discrimination. And it means welcoming them as full partners in creating long-term solutions – the possibility for them to return home when it is safe to do so, to integrate locally or, in the most urgent cases, the possibility of resettling in a third country.
Everyone has the right to asylum. Whoever they are. Wherever they come from. Whenever they need it.