This year’s World Refugee Day on 20 June “commemorates the strength, courage and resilience of refugees.”
There currently are more than 50 million refugees across the globe. Many will eventually be able to return home, but millions will spend years living in “temporary” camps after being denied the right to resettle elsewhere.
Refugees are forced to flee their home country to protect themselves and their families — often from the ruling state. According to the Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
Population growth can exacerbate tensions that lead to conflict. When there are not enough resources to go around, communities can soon turn against each other, resulting in people having to leave their homes for their own safety.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has stated, “All around the world we are seeing families fleeing violence. The numbers are massive but we must not forget that these are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. People who led ordinary lives before war forced them to flee. On World Refugee Day, everyone should remember the things that connect all of us — our common humanity.”
There have been asylum seekers for thousands of years and the right to seek asylum is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, countries are failing to offer adequate numbers of places for resettlement.
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, has stated, “We are witnessing the worst refugee crisis of our era, with millions of women, men and children struggling to survive amidst brutal wars, networks of people traffickers and governments who pursue selfish political interests instead of showing basic human compassion.”
We believe that refugees deserve a place of safety. We also believe that they should be able to access adequate healthcare services, including family planning and pregnancy services.