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Worldwide displacement tops 70 million, UN Refugee Chief urges greater solidarity in response

 

Worldwide displacement tops 70 million, UN Refugee Chief urges greater solidarity in response

 

Worldwide displacement tops 70 million, UN Refugee Chief urges greater solidarity in response

The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018. This is the highest level that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has seen in its almost 70 years. 

Angelina Jolie calls for leadership and humanity as millions flee Venezuela

 

Angelina Jolie calls for leadership and humanity as millions flee Venezuela

 

Angelina Jolie calls for leadership and humanity as millions flee Venezuela
On a two-day visit to Colombia, the UNHCR Special Envoy met with refugees, returnees and government officials to assess the human impact of a mounting exodus.

 

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie meets with children who fled Venezuela at the Integrated Assistance Centre, in Maicao, Colombia.  © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie meets with children who fled Venezuela at the Integrated Assistance Centre, in Maicao, Colombia. © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

MAICAO, Colombia – With over 4 million Venezuelans now living in exile, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie today appealed for more leadership, more humanity and more support to countries bearing the brunt of the crisis.

“This is a life and death situation for millions of Venezuelans,” Jolie told journalists at a press conference here this afternoon. “It is not possible to put a value on the support that Colombia and Peru and Ecuador are giving to the people of Venezuela, because it is the core of what it is to be human.”

In the world today, she added, “we need that humanity more than ever, and rational thinking from people who are unafraid to take responsibility and show leadership.”

“This is a life and death situation for millions of Venezuelans.”

Jolie’s stop in Maicao capped a two-day trip to Colombia, a country she has longed to visit since 2002, when she met refugees in neighbouring Ecuador who had fled decades of conflict in Colombia. She returned to Ecuador in 2010, and again in 2012, to meet with Colombian refugees. This was her 65th mission overall with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, since 2001. She was joined by the agency’s Deputy High Commissioner, Kelly Clements, who had just spent three days with Venezuelan refugees in Ecuador.

 

Jolie spoke to journalists less than ten kilometres from the border, at a centre that is hosting Venezuelans for stays of up to 30 days. Known as the Integrated Assistance Centre, it currently provides 350 highly vulnerable people with shelter and food as well as legal assistance, activities for children, medical assessments and psychosocial support.

The centre was opened in March by UNHCR and the Colombian government, but plans to expand its capacity to 1,400 people have stalled due to a 79 per cent funding shortfall that has slowed the humanitarian response throughout the entire region, putting millions at risk.

“Your children will think back on this time as the time that you really saved them.”

At the centre, Jolie met one young family who crossed the border in April. Maria, a 41-year-old single mother with six children, spoke of how she sold the metal roof over her family’s heads back in Venezuela and spent the money to clothe her children and put shoes on their feet for the journey to Colombia.

“Your children will think back on this time as the time that you really saved them,” Jolie told her.

Earlier in the day the Special Envoy met with Colombian President Iván Duque in Cartagena. She expressed her gratitude to the government and people of Colombia for responding to the Venezuela crisis with what she called “truly remarkable generosity” – particularly as it works to implement a peace plan following five decades of bloodshed within its borders.

Jolie started her visit on Friday at a shelter in Riohacha for Colombian and Venezuelan youth who have been sexually abused or trafficked, a danger facing many young people on the move in this border region, one of the poorest in Colombia.

“They’re protecting us here,” said one 17-year-old Colombian girl at the shelter, which opened earlier this year with support from UNHCR and its partners. “They’re helping us, taking care of us. I feel respected here and proud.”

 

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie speaks with Yoryanis Ojeda, 35, a former Colombian refugee who returned from Venezuela and is living in an informal settlement in Riohacha, Colombia.  © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie speaks with Yoryanis Ojeda, 35, a former Colombian refugee who returned from Venezuela and is living in an informal settlement in Riohacha, Colombia. © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

The Special Envoy also visited Brisas del Norte, an informal settlement that is home to hundreds of Colombian and Venezuelan families. The Colombians are former refugees who returned to their country to escape the political and economic crisis in Venezuela, the same conditions that forced the Venezuelans to seek refuge here.

Linda Lopez, a 60-year-old Venezuelan woman who arrived one month ago, approached Jolie as she walked through the community and described the dangers she faced back home. “People are dying of hunger,” Lopez said, breaking into tears. “My whole family fled.”

“People are dying of hunger. My whole family fled.”

Perched on a sandy bluff on the Caribbean coast, the settlement is blessed with an idyllic location, but conditions are rough. Residents live in simple homes built from recycled wood and corrugated zinc sheeting.

Rocio, who was born in Colombia but lived in Venezuela for decades, told Jolie of the struggles she fled. “It was impossible to find medication, food, education,” she said. “The last time I stood in line for food I waited 18 hours.”

A neighbour, Yoryanis Ojeda, 35, spoke of similar pressures that drove her to leave. “When you get to the point where you can’t feed your children anymore, you know you can’t go on.”

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Statement by UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie as Venezuelan refugees and migrants top 4 million

 

Statement by UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie as Venezuelan refugees and migrants top 4 million

 

Statement by UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie
as Venezuelan refugees and migrants top 4 million

 

 

In 2002, 2010 and 2012 I was in Ecuador visiting some of the many Colombians who had fled the conflict. 

I said to the families that I met that I looked forward to visiting Colombia itself, when peace made it possible for refugees to return. 

Today, I have met returning Colombian refugees, but not for the reasons I had hoped. 

Over 400,000 Colombians, who had been displaced to Venezuela, have now been forced to return by the catastrophic situation there. 

They are alongside 1.3 million Venezuelan refugees who have sought protection in Colombia. 

In addition, 3.3 million Venezuelan nationals are crossing the border for short periods of time, to find supplies and basic assistance.

The impact on public services here in Colombia is staggering. 

Some border hospitals are now providing emergency health care to as many Venezuelans as Colombians.

Many schools have doubled the number of students in their classrooms. 

“This is a life and death situation for millions of Venezuelans.” 

But Colombia still has kept its border open, and is doing everything it can to absorb these unprecedented numbers of desperate people. 

Colombians know displacement all too well. 

This country has experienced fifty years of war. 

Its peace agreement is less than three years old, and fragile. 

It is extraordinary that a country facing so many huge challenges of its own, has shown such humanity and is making these live-saving efforts. I want to acknowledge the bravery, strength and resilience of the Colombian people. 

The situation here in Colombia, and in Peru and Ecuador, puts the debate and rhetoric on refugee issues in many peaceful countries, including my own, into humbling context. 

Despite what that political rhetoric often implies, less than 1% of all refugees are resettled in western nations. 

The vast majority of the world’s uprooted people are displaced within their own borders, or have crossed into neighbouring countries like Colombia.  

Looking across the world, it seems that often those who have the least give the most. 

The humanitarian appeal issued by UNHCR and its partners in December last year is less than a quarter funded – 21% funded to be exact. 

In the meantime, the number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants has risen to over 4 million.

“Often those who have the least give the most.”

This is a life and death situation for millions of Venezuelans. But UNHCR has received only a fraction of the funds it needs, to do even the bare minimum to help them survive.

The countries receiving them, like Colombia, are trying to manage an unmanageable situation with insufficient resources. But neither they nor humanitarian actors like UNHCR are getting the funds they need in order to keep the pace with the influx, and yet they still do everything they can. 

This is not only true of the Venezuela crisis. This picture of soaring numbers and declining funds is replicated internationally. 

On 20th June we mark World Refugee Day. UNHCR expects another significant rise in the overall numbers of displaced people worldwide, and a fall in the number of people being able to return home - as the vast majority of refugees I have met long to do. 

Instead of focusing on how to address the gap in diplomacy and security and peace that is causing this number of people to move, we hear increasing talk of what individual governments are no longer prepared to do: whether that is to receive refugees or asylum seekers, or to contribute funding to UN operations and appeals. 

With the numbers of refugees worldwide rising so fast, it is naïve at best and duplicitous at worst to present these policies as if they were some kind of solution. 

When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you are not safe if you simply lock your door. 

“I will not forget what I have seen here, I will not forget the Venezuelan people.”

Leadership is about taking responsibility, as generations before us took up their responsibility to address threats to peace and security and build a rules-based world order. We need that kind of leadership again now, urgently. 

In the meantime, it is not possible to put a value on the support that Colombia and Peru and Ecuador are giving to the people of Venezuela, because it is the core of what it is to be human.

The human response is to not turn a blind eye. It is to acknowledge your fellow men and women and their suffering. It is to work towards solutions, no matter how hard. 

And above all, the human response is not to blame a victim of war or violence for their circumstances, or for their requests for help for their defenseless children.

Today we need that humanity more than ever, and rational thinking from people who are unafraid to take responsibility and show leadership.  

That will be my message as I leave Colombia and in the months to come, as I try to follow up on what I have observed in the last two days. I will not forget what I have seen here, I will not forget the Venezuelan people I have met here. My heart is with them, and I hope to return again soon. 

Thank you very much.

UNHCR collaborates with Airport Rail Link for World Refugee Day

 

UNHCR collaborates with Airport Rail Link for World Refugee Day

 

UNHCR collaborates with Airport Rail Link for World Refugee Day

 

All over the world, refugees forced to flee travel approximately two billion kilometres every year to reach the first point of safety. Today UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched the “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Airport Rail Link train in partnership with S.R.T. Electrified Train Co., Ltd. or Airport Rail Link.

 

Video credit: 
©UNHCR/Sakdipat Prapanworakhun
©UNHCR/Duangmon Sujatanond
*Royalty Free Music from Bensound

Asia governments commit to take further action to tackle statelessness at regional meeting in Bangkok

 

Asia governments commit to take further action to tackle statelessness at regional meeting in Bangkok

 

Asia governments commit to take further action
to tackle statelessness at regional meeting in Bangkok  

 

Government officials from countries in the Asia and Pacific region have made commitments to take further steps aimed at preventing and reducing statelessness. The commitments were made during a two-day meeting in Bangkok, hosted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and supported by Royal Thai Government.

The event, which brought together officials from 16 governments, was a chance for states to review progress already made, share best practices and successes, including cross-border collaborations, and discuss challenges and initiatives being undertaken.  

A number of states committed to taking specific steps, including measures to achieve universal birth registration and targeting hard-to-reach populations. Others said they would be tackling legal reforms, especially on issues related to childhood statelessness.

“One of the key things that I was inspired by today was that several states have said that they will not allow children on their territory to be stateless any more”, said UNHCR’s Special Advisor on Statelessness, Carol Batchelor, who attended the event.   

The Bangkok meeting comes almost halfway through UNHCR’s 10-year #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness and a few months before a high level global meeting on ending statelessness, to be held in Geneva in October.

One of the speakers included a formerly stateless teenager, 18 year old Namphung Panya, who received Thai citizenship just a few weeks earlier.  “It was one of the proudest moments of my life”, said the teenager, who was able, a few days later, to travel to the United States to compete in a student science and engineering fair.  She is also now  able to attend university.

Over the last five years, tens of thousands of people in Asia, who formerly had no nationality, have been granted citizenship due to concerted efforts by governments. 

People who are not formally recognised as a national of any State under the operation of its laws are considered stateless. Being denied a legal identity causes suffering from cradle to grave.

People who are stateless are often denied basic rights.  They can face great difficulties accessing education, health care and job opportunities all through life.  In some cases, they are not able to register marriages, move freely, own property, or work.  They may even be denied an official burial and a death certificate. 

 

Newsnote:

For more information about UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign https://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/

 

Media contacts:
In Bangkok:  Caroline Gluck, gluck@unhcr.org, +66 81 827 0280

                       Jennifer Harrison, harrison@unhcr.org, +66 822 908 831

 

  • Asia governments commit to take further action to tackle statelessness at regional meeting in Bangkok. ©UNHCR

  • Asia governments commit to take further action to tackle statelessness at regional meeting in Bangkok. ©UNHCR

  • "It was one of the proudest moments of my life”: Formerly stateless teenager Nampeung Panya said at Asia-Pacific meeting on ending statelessness the impact of getting Thai citizenship & to say #iBelong.

  • Asia governments commit to take further action to tackle statelessness at regional meeting in Bangkok. ©UNHCR

  • Asia governments commit to take further action to tackle statelessness at regional meeting in Bangkok. ©UNHCR

  • Asia governments commit to take further action to tackle statelessness at regional meeting in Bangkok. ©UNHCR

Asia governments to attend high level meeting in Bangkok on ending statelessness

 

Asia governments to attend high level meeting in Bangkok on ending statelessness

 

 

Asia governments to attend high level meeting in Bangkok
on ending statelessness

 

Government officials from over 15 countries in the Asia and Pacific region are attending a high level meeting in Bangkok, hosted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and supported by the Royal Thai Government, aimed at ending statelessness.

The two-day event is aimed at showcasing steps being taken by governments in the Asia and Pacific region to try to identify, prevent and reduce statelessness and protect stateless persons, including legal and policy reforms, sharing best practices and successes, including cross-border collaborations, and discussing steps to overcome challenges and initiatives being undertaken. 

Government officials will also discuss and identify possible pledges of action that they plan to take  ahead of a global high level meeting on ending statelessness, to be held in Geneva in October.

The Bangkok event comes almost halfway through UNHCR’s 10-year #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness.   “More than half the world’s known stateless are in Asia”, said UNHCR’s Special Advisor on Statelessness, Carol Batchelor, who is attending the event.  “But equally, we have seen a lot of progress in this region.  Governments are really stepping up efforts to end statelessness and provide people with the right to a nationality.

“Millions of people around the world are stateless. Yet statelessness is largely preventable and with political will, it is solvable”, she added.  

People who are not formally recognised as a national of any State under the operation of its laws are considered stateless. Being denied a legal identity causes suffering from cradle to grave.

Over the last five years, thousands of people in Asia, who formerly had no nationality, have been granted citizenship due to concerted efforts by governments.  

People who are stateless are oftentimes denied basic rights.  They could face great difficulties accessing education, health care and job opportunities all through life.  In some cases, they are not able to register marriages, move freely, own property, or work.  They may even be denied an official burial and a death certificate. 

 

Newsnote:

The two day meeting takes place at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, Bangkok, 30-31 May, 0900-1730.

Speakers include Tuenjai Deetes, Thailand’s National Human Rights Commissioner (Thursday, 30 May 11.00am) and Nampeung Panya (Friday, 31 May 10.00am)

For more information about UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign https://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/

 

Media contacts:

In Bangkok: 
Caroline Gluck, gluck@unhcr.org, +66 81 827 0280

Jennifer Harrison, harrison@unhcr.org, +66 822 908 831

 

Serenity in Chaos" Story exhibition by Wannasingh Prasertkul

 

Serenity in Chaos" Story exhibition by Wannasingh Prasertkul

 

UNHCR continues 4th NAMJAI FOR REFUGEES campaign with 
“Serenity in Chaos: Story Exhibition by Wannasingh Prasertkul” to raise funds for refugees.

 

Important Notice: Fraudulent information regarding UNHCR’s activities in Thailand

 

Important Notice: Fraudulent information regarding UNHCR’s activities in Thailand

 

Important Notice: Fraudulent information regarding UNHCR’s activities in Thailand


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has become aware of false information being circulated about our activities in Thailand.

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT)

 

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT)

 

IDAHOT: UNHCR launching consultations on LGBTI refugees’ rights

 

 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has launched this week a series of consultations to identify ways of ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) refugees are better protected against harm, and are able to seek justice and support when they experience violence and discrimination.

Echoing the theme chosen for this year’s International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), “Justice and Protection for All”, the first round of consultations with LGBTI organizations and advocates took place today, 16 May 2019, in Geneva. Other consultations will take place in different parts of the world in the coming months.

“UNHCR has been working hard to ensure that LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees are protected wherever they are, but we need to mobilize further. This is why it is so important to hear from and join up forces with individuals and organizations that have expert knowledge on this issue,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

With over 70 countries around the world still criminalizing same-sex relationships, many LGBTI people continue to experience severe human rights abuses and persecution in their home countries. Forced to seek safety and protection abroad, they often face similar or even greater risks once arrived in neighboring countries.

 

UNHCR Field Office in Mae Sot organized a special event to contribute the awareness on IDAHOT Day.
UNHCR Field Office in Mae Sot organized a special event to contribute the awareness on IDAHOT Day.

Today UNHCR highlights on May 17, 2019, the international day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT). We are partnering with this global action against the discrimination and prejudice of members of the LGBTI community in the world.

 

UNHCR Field Office in Mae Sot organized a special event to contribute the awareness of this mobilization. During the event, there was a discussion on the protection measures taken to keep LGBTI refugees living in the camps in Thailand safe. A video of Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, delivering a statement to mark #IDAHOT was shown followed by a screening of the film ‘Mr. Gay Syria’, a documentary that was part of the 2018 Refugee Film Festival in Bangkok.
 

Join UNHCR today in supporting LGBTI refugees and refugees in Thailand.

 

#UNHCRThailand
#IDAHOT
#YouAreSafeHere

UNHCR invites Thai public to step in solidarity with refugees in “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Campaign

 

UNHCR invites Thai public to step in solidarity with refugees in “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Campaign

 

UNHCR invites Thai public to step in solidarity with refugees in
“2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Campaign

 

 

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today launched its new global campaign in Thailand, calling on people to cover the distance travelled by refugees each year.

The 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign encourages people to support refugees by championing individual acts of solidarity. These acts, when taken together, acknowledge the resilience and strength of refugees.

 

UNHCR traced the journeys of refugees around the world and calculated that collectively, people forced to flee travel approximately two billion kilometres every year to reach the first point of safety. In 2016, Syrian refugees travelled more than 240 kilometres to reach Turkey. South Sudanese refugees travelled more than 640 kilometres to reach Kenya and Rohingya refugees in Myanmar travelled approximately 80 kilometres to reach Bangladesh.

 

The 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign invites people to act in solidarity and run, walk or cycle to achieve a cumulative total of two billion kilometres. Participants can use their fitness apps or the campaign website – www.unhcr.or.th – to log the kilometres and contribute to a global total.

 

In Thailand, UNHCR introduced the campaign with a “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” charity run to be held on Sunday 16 June in order to commemorate World Refugee Day on 20 June. The charity run is the first in a series of events organised by UNHCR’s corporate partners to accumulate the distance covered by Thai people and contribute to the campaign to show solidarity with refugees worldwide.

 

“Running, walking and cycling are well accepted in Thailand. This campaign will encourage Thai people to support refugees through something they are already doing,” said Giuseppe de Vincentiis, UNHCR Representative in Thailand. “At a time of record high global displacement, it is vital that we remind ourselves of the real and dangerous journeys they are forced to take.”

Thailand is one of 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and North America, Europe and the Middle East taking part in the campaign, including individuals, celebrity supporters, refugees and UNHCR personnel.

 

“Refugees do not have a choice and must take dangerous journeys to seek safety for their own lives and those of their loved ones’,” says UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Praya Lundberg. “To show solidarity with refugees, I will start by running at the 2 Billion Kilometres Charity Run to step with refugees and ask all Thais to join me.”

 

The “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety Charity Run” will be held on Sunday 16 June 2019 on Rajdamnern Nok Avenue. Tickets are available at 550 and 1,000 Baht and can be purchased at www.unhcr.or.th.  All proceeds will go to support refugees with registration and reception services, food and water, shelter, basic aid, healthcare and psychological support.

 

UNHCR offers its thanks to the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety Charity Run and Campaign’s corporate partner Ari.

 

END

 


*2 Billion Kilometres to Safety Series in Thailand in 2019

  • 2 June:              One Siam One Run
  • 8 - 9 June:         Laguna Phuket Marathon
  • 9 June:              Hua Hin - Classic Run Ultra Half Marathon
  • 16 June :           UNHCR 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety Charity Run
  • September:       International School Bangkok (ISB)
  • 8 September:     River Kwai International Half Marathon
  • 27 October:       Bangkok International Run

 

Join this global effort and make every step count for refugees. Sign up today to start adding your kilometres and find out how you’ll be making a difference. www.unhcr.or.th                                  

#WithRefugees
#StepwithRefugees

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Duangmon Sujatanond

Senior PSP Assistant (Fundraising Communications)

Email: sujatano@unhcr.org

Office: +662 288 1296 Mobile: +668 1855 8522

  • UNHCR invites Thai public to step in solidarity with refugees in “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Campaign. ©UNHCR/Somkiat Jaraspat

  • UNHCR invites Thai public to step in solidarity with refugees in “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Campaign. ©UNHCR/Somkiat Jaraspat

  • UNHCR invites Thai public to step in solidarity with refugees in “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Campaign. ©UNHCR/Somkiat Jaraspat

  • UNHCR invites Thai public to step in solidarity with refugees in “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Campaign. ©UNHCR/Somkiat Jaraspat

  • UNHCR invites Thai public to step in solidarity with refugees in “2 Billion Kilometres to Safety” Campaign. ©UNHCR/Somkiat Jaraspat