Critical time to welcome refugees, says UN rights expert

Photo: Basug archive.

The world must act now to help those forced to leave their homes by overwhelming circumstances, according to a UN rights expert.

In a statement to mark World Refugee Day, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, urged people to support action to help refugees, including education, shelter and training for work.

‘Every minute, 20 people from different geographical, racial, linguistic and religious backgrounds are forced to leave their homes by hatred or conflict. Most of them come from minorities and are vulnerable and marginalised,’ saidVarennes.

On World Refugee Day, he said, they focus on the respect and deference owed to the strength, resilience and courage shown by each refugee during her or his individual journey, according to a message received from Geneva.

‘We must now act on our common feelings of empathy and solidarity and do everything in our power to unite humanity against hatred and conflict,’ saidVarennes.

He said human dignity can be attained by respecting neighbours including the minorities among them. ‘To attain human dignity, by all and for all, ongoing commitment by governments towards the respect of human rights is fundamental.’

The recent rise in tragedies across the globe has increased refugee populations, which has subsequently led to polarised ideologies around the world.

‘As such, it is a critical time to welcome refugees with deference and a time for us to unite in diversity. We must all acknowledge the dignity of refugees and their human rights.’

In June 2016, the UN Refugee Agency launched the #WithRefugees petition that pursues commitment by governments to education for refugee children, safe shelter for refugee families, and the freedom for refugees to contribute to their society by working or developing new skills.

‘I invite you to take action by joining nearly two million other people who have already signed the #WithRefugees petition to support this initiative, along with refugees around the world,’ saidVarennes.


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