Switzerland: World Refugee Day gets under way amid record displacement - UNHCR

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) – Chefs, muralists, cyclists and even a pop-up orchestra led millions of people around the world in celebratory events to mark World Refugee Day, at a time when the number of men, women and children uprooted by wars and persecution has broken records, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported on Tuesday.

The event, which falls each year on 20 June, salutes the courage and endurance of those who have been forced to flee their homes. Many are also showing they stand #WithRefugees by signing UNHCR’s petition.

It said in Sydney, Australia, supporters of UNHCR Australia got together for a World Refugee Day breakfast at hotel in downtown Sydney. About 400 people were expected at the white tablecloth event to show solidarity with refugees.

In Lalitpur, Nepal, about 500 cyclists put on helmets and pedalled through the streets of Lalitpur, Nepal, on Saturday in solidarity with refugees. The Himalayan kingdom has itself suffered massive displacement, after more than half a million people lost their homes in an eqrthquake in April 2015.

UNHCR said also in Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, in a dazzling display of support for World Refugee Day in Iraq, artists, forcibly displaced youngsters and their host communities got together to paint murals in celebration of a shared humanity.

They included a bear and its cub emerging from a waterfall in Sulaymaniyah, a shimmering peacock in Duhok and a flower-daubed deer in Erbil.

In Chad, celebrations to mark World Refugee Day got off to a brisk start, with a game of wheelchair basketball. Chad hosted more than 391,000 refugees at the end of last year.

Ukrainians dancers and musicians showed their support for refugees at an outdoor concert in Mariupol at the weekend, UNHCR said. Some two million people have been displaced by conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The city recently faced rocket attacks and electricity cuts that left thousands without vital services in freezing temperatures.

It said 84 restaurants are taking part in this year’s much expanded Refugee Food Festival, now being held in 13 European cities across six countries. Running through 30 June, it gives refugee chefs from countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Somalia, Syria and Ukraine the chance to tempt European diners with dishes from home. Last year the festival took place in Paris and Strasbourg.

UNHCR in a report published on Monday said war, violence and persecution worldwide are causing more people than ever to be forcibly displaced.

UNHCR’s new "Global Trends" report, the organization’s major annual survey of the state of displacement, says that at the end of 2016 there were 65.6 million people forcibly displaced worldwide – some 300,000 more than a year earlier. This total represents an enormous number of people needing protection worldwide.

The figure of 65.6 million comprises three important components, UNHCR said in a press statement.

First is refugee numbers, which at 22.5 million are the highest ever seen. Of these, 17.2 million come under the responsibility of UNHCR, and the remainder are Palestinian refugees registered with our sister-organization UNRWA.
Syria’s conflict remains the world’s biggest producer of refugees (5.5 million). However, in 2016 the biggest new factor was South Sudan where the disastrous breakdown of peace efforts in July of that year contributed to the outflow of 739,900 people by year’s end (1.87 million today).

UNHCR said second is displacement of people inside their own countries, whose numbers were 40.3 million at the end of 2016 compared to 40.8 million a year earlier. Syria, Iraq, and the still very significant displacement inside Colombia were the biggest internal displacement situations, nonetheless the problem of internal displacement is a worldwide one and accounts for almost two thirds of the global forced displacement total.

Third is asylum seekers, people who have fled their country and are seeking international protection as refugees. As of the end of 2016 the number of people seeking asylum globally was 2.8 million.

It said this adds up to an immense human cost of war and persecution globally: 65.6 million means that on average one in every 113 people worldwide is today someone who is displaced – a population bigger than that of the world’s 21st most populous country, the United Kingdom.
-0- PANA MA 20June2017

20 june 2017 07:08:16

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