June 20th is World Refugee Day

Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres states “Our duty to the people we serve is to work together to move from fear of each other to trust in each other. Diversity in all its forms is an asset, not a threat.”

So let us recall our common humanity on World Refugee Day, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to displaced people everywhere.

TOGETHER is a United Nations campaign that promotes respect safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. Its aim is to counter the rise in xenophobia, intolerance, racism and discrimination by :

  • changing negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and
  • strengthening the social contract between host countries and communities, and refugees and migrants.

 

Refugees and displaced people are just like you and me

Every minute 24 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?

We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees – over half of whom are under the age of 18. Over a half of all global refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

Definitions of displaced people and NZ’s response to refugees

There are several types of forcibly displaced persons.

  • 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.
  • 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 (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.

Migrants make the decision to move based on choice so are very different from refugees. They choose to move to better their circumstances such as to escape poverty and unemployment or to reunite with family members, and are often able to decide where they will migrate to.

New Zealand currently resettles up to 1,000 refugees every year, and we are only 1 of 26 countries that regularly accept refugees annually. Last year New Zealand welcomed refuges from 21 different countries as well as 600 Syrian refugees under the emergency refugee quota.

Sources: NZ Red Cross Refugee Services and United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Published on Monday, May 8th, 2017, under Uncategorised
Page last updated: 21/06/2017

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