Every year on June 20 the world honours the courage, resilience and strength of refugees. On this sixth anniversary of the United Nations-designated World Refugee Day, thousands of organisations in hundreds of countries will come together to focus global attention not only on the plight of refugees and the causes of their exile, but also on their determination and will to survive and on the contributions they make to their host communities.
Often classified unfairly with economic migrants, refugees flee their country not for economic gain but to escape persecution, the threat of imprisonment and even threats to their lives. They need a safe haven where they can recover from mental and physical trauma and rebuild their hopes for a better future.
The intolerance that is often at the root of internal displacement and refugee flows is also present in some of the countries that refugees flee to. Instead of finding empathy and understanding, they are often met with mistrust or scorn.
While most refugees want to go home, some cannot safely return. But wherever they are, refugees will always strive to pick up the pieces and start over.
See UNHCR events around the world
For more information, contact:
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500, CH-1211 Geneva 2 Dépôt, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 739 8111
Facts and figures on refugee and internally displaced children
The statistics below have been extracted by AlertNet from UNHCR's report:
- Total: 9.9 million (not including 4.3 million Palestinian refugees cared for by another U.N. agency, UNRWA). This was a 14 per cent rise on 2005, due mainly to 1.2 million Iraqi refugees and a revised estimate of the refugee population in the United States. The Iraqi refugee total has since risen to 2.2 million.
- More than 140 governments have now signed the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
Top countries of origin
Afghanistan - 2.1 million
Iraq - 1.5 million (now 2.2 million)
Sudan - 686,000
Somalia - 460,000
Democratic Republic of the Congo - about 400,000
Burundi - about 400,000
Main countries of asylum
Pakistan - 1 million
Iran - 968,000
United States - 844,000
Syria - 702,000 (now 1.4 million)
Germany - 605,00
People internally displaced by conflict
Total: 24.5 million (estimated by Norwegian Refugee Council), of which 12.9 million are protected or assisted by the UNHCR.
Main countries with internally displaced people
Colombia - 3 million
Iraq - 1.8 million (now more than 2 million)
Uganda - 1.6 million
Sudan - 5 million (of whom UNHCR assists 1.3 million)
DRC - 1.1 million
Total - 596,600, an 11 per cent drop compared to 2005
Europe - 299,000
Africa - 159,000
Americas - 78,000
Asia - 53,500
Oceania - 7,100
Total: 5.8 million (accurate statistics are lacking; UNHCR estimates that the real total could be as high as 15 million).
- Locking Up Family Values: The detention of immigrant families (February 2007)
Previous UN event items
- 13/06/2007: HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: Hope for Somalia? An interactive panel on the situation of human rights in Somalia
- 11/06/2007: Human Rights Council Session 5
- 11/06/2007: Consejo de Derechos Humanos: 5° período de sesiones
- 11/06/2007: 5eme session du Conseil des Droits de l'Homme
- 17/05/2007: 2007 Human Rights Council Elections
Last updated 20/06/2007 13:17:17