Aaron Stipkovich spoke with Assistant Secretary of State Anne C. Richard
and Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees at the United Nations T. Alexander Aleinikoff
as well as listened to Secretary John Kerry
and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres
speak on the refugee condition in Syria. Since it was World Refugee Day
, all aspects of global refugee situation were touched upon by the individuals closest to the situation, worldwide.
[Editor's note: Secretary John Kerry's Twitter address is @StateDept]
With over 45 million people displaced from their homes because of conflict or violence, the world now hosts the highest number of displaced individuals since 1994, when millions of people fled ethnic violence in former Yugoslavia and genocide in Rwanda.
These figures reduce as follows: 15.4 million people fled as refugees across borders, 28.8 million were internally displaced within their own countries, while 937,000 others sought asylum elsewhere.
Secretary of State, John Kerry was on hand to deliver a prepared overview, the tireless UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres spoke live (via satellite) from Jordan, and IRC Voice Sarah Wayne Callies spoke of how "proud as the granddaughter of a refugee to be doing what I can to support refugees around the world." The most compelling statements, however, came from those who interact in the field, day after day; Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard, and Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees at the United Nations T. Alexander Aleinikoff. This interview highlights conversations between Anne C. Richard, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, and Aaron Stipkovich.
Millions of families have lost their homes to violence and war. One refugee family without shelter is too many. Each year on June 20th the United Nations and countless civic groups around the world celebrate World Refugee Day.
World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. Millions need your help. There are over 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world and of those, UNHCR
provides lifesaving assistance and protection to 34 million of them.
Click here to donate now
Imagine being the mother of a sick and hungry child and having to decide between risking your life staying in a conflict or leaving behind everything in search of safety. UNHCR provides tents, shelter, supplies and life-saving services to refugees ' 80% are women and children. Millions of refugees need help all around the world ' 1 family torn apart by war is too many.
Highlights from the event:
Secretary of State
"...as we gather here today, the eyes of all people are still on us. And thanks to the work of people like Anne and Antonio ' and so many of you ' I believe we have reason to be hopeful. Because of your commitment, our most sacred values and the United States hopes and aspirations still remain a beacon of hope for people all over the world. We have work yet to do, but we recognize that we do it as a land of second chances and as an example for what we can do to help people achieve that second opportunity."
Each time you blink...
The most salient statement for World Refugee Day 2013 by Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees; "Each time you blink, another person is forced to flee." | Photo: The United Nations | Link |
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
"...with no clear political resolution in sight, this civil war is in real danger of sliding into a regional conflict. It is no longer fantasy to foresee an explosion in the Middle East that the world would not be able to cope with.
We will continue to do everything we can to aid and alleviate the suffering of Syrians. But the cascade of death and destruction is spreading fast, and I repeat my call on those with political responsibilities to overcome their divisions and come together to do everything in their power to stop this war."
Susan E. Rice
Ambassador, Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Today, we commemorate World Refugee Day, which provides an important opportunity to highlight the plight of the millions of refugees worldwide who have been forced from their homes and fled their countries to escape war, repression, or persecution. It is also a day to honor their courage and resilience in the face of extraordinary adversity and to thank the brave humanitarians, including especially those working for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who risk their own lives and safety to protect and support refugees wherever they are.
Globally, there are more than 15.4 million refugees. This must galvanize us to redouble our efforts to safeguard the rights of refugees, including ensuring that they are not forcibly returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened and assist them in their efforts to rebuild. And, while the international community is rightly focused on those impacted by the conflict in Syria, including the over 1.6 million people forced to flee their homeland, we must remember the plight of the millions of other refugees around the world from Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa and Burma and continue to provide them the needed support.
Whenever possible, the international community works to return refugees to their homes in safety and dignity. Many refugees all over the world are able to return to their homes, but some must resettle in other countries when returning is not an option. On this World Refugee Day, the United States calls on all nations to intensify efforts to ensure refugees around the world can lead lives of dignity and opportunity in a lasting home.
Secretary-General of the United Nations
"On World Refugee Day, I call on the international community to intensify efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts, and to help achieve peace and security so that families can be reunited and refugees can return home."
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
, continues its award-winning "1" campaign with its first ever personal fundraising site, which asks us to Take 1 minute to support a family forced to flee
On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 55/76 decided that, from 2001, 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. In this resolution, the General Assembly noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
African Refugee Day had been formally celebrated in several countries prior to 2000. The UN noted that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated in January each year, having been instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X.
Each year on June 20th the United Nations, United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and countless civic groups around the world celebrate World Refugee Day in order to draw the public's attention to the millions of refugees and Internally displaced persons worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution.
The annual commemoration is marked by a variety of events in more than 100 countries, involving government officials, humanitarian aid workers, celebrities, civilians and the forcibly displaced themselves.
No one choses to be a refugee...