UN: UNHCR urges govts to recognize people fleeing war-plagued countries

New York, US (PANA) - Faced with record displacement due to conflict, the UN has moved to reinforce the global refugee protection regime by issuing new guidelines on dealing with people fleeing their country because of war, who are not recognized as refugees by some governments.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Adrian Edwards, who briefed reporters in Geneva on Friday, said: "These guidelines are crucial because most conflicts today target groups of civilians because of their real or perceived ethnic, religious, social or political affiliation.

"There is no question that those fleeing the devastating effects of armed conflict may indeed be refugees."

Edwards said that the guidelines aim to ensure that governments generally consider those fleeing armed conflict and other violent crises as refugees, noting that discrepancies still exist today when determining refugee eligibility, with some countries not recognizing such a claim by victims of violence.

"The 1951 Refugee Convention, the cornerstone of our work, has always included refugees from war. But over the years it has been inconsistently applied, and some countries have required people fleeing war to prove they were individually targeted.

"The idea that one has to be singled out and individually targeted to be a refugee is a myth," he stated.

UNHCR has called on all countries to follow the new guidelines in order to apply a consistent and harmonized standard for refugees, one that provides international protection to all who need it.

Edwards also disclosed that forced displacement is at a record high globally, with 65.3 million people displaced as of the end of 2015. Refugees make up about a third of this total, or 21.3 million, with the overwhelming majority being people displaced within their own country.

UNHCR has a mandate to protect refugees, stateless people and people displaced internally. On a daily basis it helps millions of people worldwide, often on the front lines of conflict.

-0-  PANA  AA/AR  2Dec2016

02 december 2016 19:47:25

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