UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for increased efforts to prevent and solve conflicts that force people to become refugees.
In a message to mark World Refugee Day, he said: “We must work together to mobilize the political will and leadership to prevent and end the conflicts that trigger refugee flows. Where security is restored, we must address the underlying causes of conflict, allowing sustainable refugee return through access to livelihoods, services and the rule of law.”
He noted that more than 42 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes and communities.
In the past 18 months, conflicts in Côte d'Ivoire, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Syria, forced more than a million to flee their countries.
“These numbers represent far more than statistics; they are individuals and families whose lives have been upended, whose communities have been destroyed, and whose future remains uncertain,” Mr. Ban said.
He described World Refugee Day as “a moment to remember all those affected, and a time to intensify our support.”
Mr. Ban praised developing countries for hosting most of the world’s refugees. “Four out of five refugees are in developing countries, and have benefitted from the remarkable generosity of host countries that themselves face serious deprivations,” Mr. Ban said.
Pakistan and Iran host the largest number of refugees. The two countries alone host over two and half million refugees.
“Tunisia and Liberia are also among countries that, despite their own national challenges, maintained open borders and shared scarce water, land and other resources for those suffering the impact of armed violence,” Mr. Ban said. “Kenya’s third biggest city is a refugee camp and hosts over half a million Somalis, many in their third decade of exile. Niger, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso — suffering famine and drought — now host some 175,000 refugees fleeing conflict in Mali. These countries cannot be left to shoulder this burden alone.”
He appealed to all countries to support refugees. “Despite budget constraints everywhere, we must not turn away from those in need. Refugees leave because they have no choice. We must choose to help,” Mr. Ban said.