Friday, June 18, 2010

World Refugee Day

In honor of World Refugee Day today, Friday, June 18, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres announced that the UNHCR had reached a milestone in referring 100,000 Irqai refugees for resettlement from Middle Eastern countries since 2007. 

"UNHCR's 2009 Global Trends report, released Tuesday, highlights the fact that Iraqis are one of the largest refugee groups in the world, with an estimated 1.8 million seeking shelter overseas, primarily in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. The Syrian government estimates there are 1 million refugees in the country, the majority from Iraq. Voluntary repatriation worldwide in 2009 was at its lowest point in 20 years, with around 251,500 returns, of which only 38,000 were Iraqi."

"The growing resilience of conflict results in a larger proportion of refugees who are unable to return to their homes," said Guterres, noting that major conflicts in Afghanistan, southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo show no signs of being resolved, while "conflicts that we had hoped were on their way to being resolved are stagnating."

More information about World Refugee Day may be found on the UNHCR website, which states that there are 40 million persons worldwide currently uprooted from their homes.  Many of these refugees have spent years living in limbo.  Lengthy security checks and the time it has taken for state processing mechanisms to be established have led to considerable delays in the departure of refugees to their new homes. Thus, much more remains to be done.


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