UN: UN chief receives #WithRefugees petition, urges global solidarity

New York, US (PANA) - Ahead of the 19 September UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accepted a 1.3 million signature-strong petition that expressed solidarity with millions of refugees.

PANA in New York recalled that, the #WithRefugees petition was launched on 19 June on World Refugee Day by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The petition called on world leaders and other participants attending the Summit to make sure all refugee children can go to school, all refugees have a safe place to live and all refugees can work and contribute to their local community.

Speaking at a ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York to receive the petition, Ban said: "We cannot let innocent people be buried by indifference. We cannot let heartlessness expose so many children to deadly risk, we stand with refugees, and the summit next week is for them."

The UN chief said that the refugees are merely asking for what all people deserve, namely a home, a school and a chance.

He thanked and credited the UN and its agencies for offering global solidarity when he, himself, was a six-year old refugee, saying: "Without their support I would not be standing here."

He also noted that, upcoming Summit is a foundation to build a stronger global response and that the UN was mobilizing all partners, stating: "We declare our commitment to share the responsibility. That will benefit everyone. Let us help refugees and create a better future for all."

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, together with refugees and prominent UNHCR supporters presented the petition to Ban and the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, to ensure the call is heard in the highest place and also stressed the need for solidarity and shared responsibility #WithRefugees.

Mr. Grandi said: "We are in a period of deepening conflict and turmoil in the world, which is causing many more people to flee their homes than before. It affects and involves us all, and what it needs is understanding, compassion and political will to come together and find real answers for the refugee plight."

The UN refugee agency chief explained that millions of people were newly displaced in 2015, causing global refugee and internal displacement totals to skyrocket, while countries of the developing world were most affected, Europe too witnessed dramatic scenes, as hundreds of thousands of people crossed the Mediterranean in search of safety and refuge. Thousands died along the way.

He stated: "This has become a defining challenge of our times."

He also said that at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe, many ordinary people had come forward to help, saying: "There was an extraordinary outpouring of empathy and solidarity, as ordinary people and communities opened their homes and their hearts to refugees, and some countries have welcomed new arrivals even while already hosting large numbers of refugees."

The event was the culmination of a week of global broadcasts by UNHCR’s celebrity supporters on Facebook Live encouraging people in every region to sign the #WithRefugees petition, which will remain active until all its goals are achieved.

The broadcasts were launched by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett and included her Facebook-produced film "What they took with them", which premiered at the event.

The film taken from the poem of the same name written by Jenifer Toksvig, lists things refugees carried with them when they fled, and expresses the trauma when conflict and persecution force people to leave their homes.

The UNHCR said more than 60 million have been displaced as either refugees or migrants in different parts of the world due to conflicts, as well as political and social issues.
-0-  PANA  AA  17Sept2016

17 september 2016 15:08:07




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