UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Phramedhivajirodom, UNHCR Patron for Peace and Compassion and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA BANGKOK) are organizing “Art for Refugees Exhibition 2” to continue raising funds to shelter refugees and displaced people in need under UNHCR’s global campaign “Nobody Left Outside”.
With more than 70 million refugees and displaced people globally, we are witnessing the highest level of displacement in almost 70 years. When entire families are forced to flee from war, persecution and conflict, they have no choice but to leave everything behind. Provision of a safe shelter is the first critical step to assist them to rebuild their lives.
UNHCR research shows that millions of people are suffering in desperate living conditions that leave them exposed to both physical and emotional risks. “Nobody Left Outside” calls on individuals, corporations, foundations and philanthropists to help raise the funds needed to shelter at least two million of the most vulnerable refugees around the world.
“We are grateful for the support of Phramedhivajirodom and leading Thai artists to the Nobody Left Outside campaign for the second time,” said Pia Carmela Paguio, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Thailand. “This is a great example of the type of collective response which is needed more than ever given the current scale and complexity of the global refugee crisis.”
Phramedhivajirodom, a prominent Buddhist monk in Thailand, has been supporting UNHCR since 2016 with his personal commitment, empathy and dedication in promoting peace and compassion to make a difference to the lives of fellow human beings. Donations received during the “Art for Refugees Exhibition 1” and from UNHCR partners around the world have helped UNHCR to distribute over 70,000 tents and around 2 million pieces of plastic sheeting to support refugee families.
This month, UNHCR, Phramedhivajirodom and MOCA BANGKOK continue the Art for Refugees Exhibition for a second year with support from 30 leading Thai artists including Decha Warashoon and Preecha Thaothong, the national artist as well as Sompop Budtarad, Prateep Kochabua and Thongchai Srisukprasert who will showcase their work at the exhibition with highlights from two special guests, Tanawat “Pope” Wattanaputi and Jirayu “Got” Tantrakul, Thai famous actors, who create artwork to be auctioned at the exhibition’s opening ceremony to raise funds for the campaign.
“In light of the global crisis, compassion becomes more important. For me, people who are forced to flee from home deserve to live with dignity and need our empathy and support without discrimination,” said Phramedhivajirodom, UNHCR Patron for Peace and Compassion. “Every person needs a safe place to live and your support in providing one of the basic needs to the less fortunate is considered meaningful.”
The “Art for Refugees Exhibition 2” is open for public viewing from 03 to 31 August 2019 at the Temporary Exhibition Room, G Floor, MOCA BANGKOK with free admission. Net proceeds from the event will be donated to UNHCR to support the Nobody Left Outside campaign providing shelter to 2 million refugees in 12 countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Rwanda and Chad.
Your efforts can provide refugee families with a warm, safe place to recover and rebuild their lives. Join the UNHCR family and help us to shelter two million people, ensuring there is Nobody Left Outside via www.unhcr.or.th.
Great-grandparents Pree and Dee Noe are looking forward to returning to their homeland after three decades in north-western Thailand.
“When we left Myanmar, the situation was not good,” says 82-year-old Pree, a Karen refugee. “There was lots of fighting. We were living in the jungle and needed to move frequently from place to place.”
The couple fled to Thailand to escape conflict between armed ethnic groups and the Myanmar military. They are among some 96,000 Myanmar refugees — most of Karen, Karenni and Burmese ethnicity – now living in nine temporary shelters along the Myanmar border.
Pree, Dee Noe and their family have joined more than 300 refugees who are opting to return to Myanmar during July. The family plans initially to settle with Pree’s sister and relatives in mountainous Kayin State, in the country’s south-east.
“Refugees have been living in camp situations for decades.”
Between 2016, when a programme for facilitating voluntary repatriation was agreed by the Thai and Myanmar governments, and this February, more than 700 refugees have returned to Myanmar. The facilitated return movements are led by the two neighbouring governments with the support of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, sister UN agencies and their partners.
The refugees have been living in informal villages that emerged in the mid-1980s as refugees fled into Thailand. The communities later became nine larger communities which are managed by the Thai authorities, with UNHCR providing access to legal assistance, including civil registration. The agency also supports child protection programmes as well as activities to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
“Many refugees have been living in a camp situation for decades,” explains Atsuko Furukawa, UNHCR Senior Field Coordinator in Tak Province. She stresses that protracted life in camp settings does not allow future generations to “fulfil their potential with dignity.
“Voluntary repatriation is one of the solutions, but it is not the only one. UNHCR is working very closely with the governments of Thailand and Myanmar to identify a range of solutions to help refugees.
“These may include the pursuit of access to formal and legal labour opportunities in Thailand under certain conditions.”
UNHCR is only helping those families to return who approach the agency directly, stating that they want to take part in the facilitated voluntary return process. Before the return takes place, UNHCR and partners carry out assessments in the areas of return to assess available facilities and prevailing conditions. Factual and impartial information is shared with all refugees who have registered to return to help their decision making on whether to return home.
Pree says her family – who are among some 35,000 refugees living in Mae La – have felt safe and well-cared for in Thailand. But, mindful of the passing years and after hearing from her sister that the situation in her home region is improving, she is now looking forward to returning. “It will not be perfect, but people say that the conditions are better than before.”
“I want to go back to Myanmar because I want to spend the rest of my life there,” explains Dee Noe, 96. “I can rely on my family members, who will be able to breed animals to make an income … It is also good for the children to be able to go to their homeland.”
“I want to go back to Myanmar because I want to spend the rest of my life there.”
While Dee Noe, Pree and their daughter Mu Htway, now aged 41, were born in Myanmar, their five grandchildren and great granddaughter were born in Mae La, the largest of the nine temporary shelters.
“I am happy that we have been allowed to live in Thailand for so many years but we cannot do much here as refugees, as our movements are restricted,” she says. “There are no livelihood opportunities for us.”
Mu Htway hopes that, with hard work, there will be greater freedoms and opportunities for her five children in Myanmar. She is also pleased that the family will be eligible to obtain citizenship, allowing them to move freely, work, and have access to services ranging from healthcare to education.
Her son Pa Ta Ba, 22, who was born in Mae La and has a young daughter of his own, agrees that the family will be better off in Myanmar, especially as they will have access to work opportunities.
“I will miss Mae La because I have been here for a long time and I have an attachment to it. I was born here, I grew up here and this is all I know,’ he explains. “But I am happy to follow my grandparents as I believe that things will be better and being a citizen will mean having more freedom.”
UN Agencies assist thousands as non-stop rain, winds pound Rohingya refugee sites in Bangladesh
Submitted by webmaster on 16 July 2019
UN Agencies assist thousands as non-stop rain, winds pound Rohingya refugee sites in Bangladesh
Cox’s Bazar, 15 July 2019: United Nations (UN) Agencies have been working around the clock to repair damage, temporarily relocate affected refugees, and activate disaster response plans following eight days of unrelenting rain and wind - the most severe weather since the massive Rohingya refugee influx of 2017.
Three days of continuous rain in Bangladesh have destroyed 273 shelters and injured 11 people in the Cox’s Bazar settlements where more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees live.
An estimated 350mm of rain fell in 72 hours from Monday and more heavy downpours are expected throughout next week, with four months of the monsoon season to go. According to preliminary reports, there have been 26 landslides.
Refugee volunteers trained by UNHCR and partners worked throughout the night on Wednesday in heavy rain to help families in urgent need. In some cases, this involved rescuing refugees from shelters destroyed by landslides. We have temporarily relocated 2,137 people, either because their shelters suffered substantial damage or as a precaution.
Our network of Emergency Response Teams has been mobilised to identify the needs of the most vulnerable and prioritise them for assistance. As an immediate response, pre-positioned emergency supplies are being distributed to help rebuild, repair and strengthen damaged shelters.
In support of the humanitarian response led by the Bangladeshi authorities, UNHCR and partners, including WFP and IOM, made preparedness for the monsoon season a priority, including building retaining structures on hillsides, installing drainage, and building roads and bridges. Reservoirs have been also constructed to hold monsoon rains and stabilise water supplies.
We remain on high alert, ready to deploy additional Emergency Response Teams to support our network of refugee volunteers and partners as needed.
To date, the 2019 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh has received only a third (US$301 million) of the US$920 million that is needed.
In a breakthrough in the global fight against statelessness, the Kyrgyz Republic has today become a leading example of how statelessness can be eradicated by bringing the number of stateless people in the country from over 13,000 to zero in just five years.
In a ceremony this morning in the capital, Bishkek, 50 previously stateless people, including 15 children, were issued with birth certificates and passports, making them citizens. They are the last known stateless people in Kyrgyzstan and will now have the same rights as any other citizen.
The break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s left hundreds of thousands throughout Central Asia stateless, including in Kyrgyzstan. Encouraged by the UNHCR-led #IBelong campaign that was launched in 2014 to end statelessness, the Government and partners had identified 13,700 people without nationality in the country. These included more than 2,000 children.
“Kyrgyzstan’s leadership on resolving known cases of statelessness is a remarkable example that I hope others will applaud and heed,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “My congratulations to all those who have received their citizenship today.”
Statelessness affects millions of people around the world, often denying them the basic rights and official recognition that most people take for granted. Some 3.9 million stateless people appear in the reporting of 78 countries, but UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency believes the true total to be significantly higher.
Myanmar refugees return home from Thailand with UNHCR support.
All packed and ready to go! Today over 90 refugees from Mae La temporary shelter in #Thailand are voluntarily returning to #Myanmar. As part of a voluntary repatriation process led by the Royal Thai Government and the Government of the Union of Myanmar, with the support of UNHCR and its partners. The process is being led by both governments with the support of UNHCR.
Angelina Jolie calls for leadership and humanity as millions flee Venezuela
Submitted by webmaster on 11 June 2019
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
UNHCR collaborates with Airport Rail Link for World Refugee Day
Submitted by webmaster on 6 June 2019
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.
UNHCR's work is humanitarian, social and non-political. Its Statute and subsequent UN resolutions mandate the agency to provide international protection and seek durable solutions for refugees and other people of concern.