Statement by the UNHCR Representative, Ms. Pierrine Aylara, on the Occasion of the Commemoration of World Refugee Day, 20th June, 2018
The Guest of Honour, Minister of Home Affairs, honourable Stephen Kampyongo MP,
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs,
The Commissioner for Refugees,
Senior Government officials,
Members of the Diplomatic community,
The UN Country Team and UNHCR Implementing Partners,
The Refugee Community
Representatives of the host community
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Let me start by warmly welcoming you all and more importantly to thank you for joining us in the commemoration of this year’s World Refugee Day.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s event will be my first World Refugee Day commemoration as UNHCR Country Representative in welcoming Zambia; having assumed my tour of duty ten months ago.
As already alluded by previous speakers, the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day is: We stand together # WITHREFUGEES
In line with this theme, todays’ event is an opportunity for all of us to show more solidarity toward refugees and to also stand by the communities that welcome and host them. As more conflicts emerge, recur, persist and deepen, millions of people are uprooted around the world. According to the latest UNHCR Global Trends report, 68.5 million people were displaced as of end of 2017, some of whom are either being displaced for the first time or repeatedly; this is an indication of a huge number of people on the move, and equivalent to 44,500 people being displaced each day, or a person becoming displaced every two seconds. The impact of this displacement is damaging, for refugees themselves, and for the communities that open their doors to host them. Now, more than ever, taking care of refugees must be a global and shared responsibility.
Honorable Minister, as we commemorate the World Refugee Day this year, allow me to underline that the recent influx of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo has brought forth a strong manifestation of solidarity and humanity that were continuously expressed by the Government of the Republic of Zambia and the people of Zambia in the receiving districts of Luapula, Northern and North Western provinces as well as in Lusaka and various locations.
It is important to note that these communities are themselves in remote areas and also need attention. Yet, as soon as the refugees arrive, the host communities still share the minimum resources they possess because they are motivated by compassion, by generosity and by humanity.
On this special occasion, I reiterate that helping refugees rebuild their lives requires our individual and collective attention; we I appeal to all of us to continue working together to help them achieve what most of us take for granted such as access to education, a dwelling place to live, civil documentation, access to livelihood and employment and to continue to feel at home.
Honorable Minister, in my closing remarks, I wish to appeal to all of us that, when we pause to contemplate the fate of the millions of people who have fled their countries because of war or persecutions, it’s also a moment to ask ourselves what each of us can do to overcome our differences and to rather embrace the idea of inclusion and to continue to welcome refugees and other uprooted people.
Because, when WE STAND TOGETHER #WithRefugees, we also stand for respect and diversity for all as we build lives with refugees and the new permanent residents.
I thank you.