World Refugee Day 2009

World refugee day poster by UNHCR

The UN refugee agency, world communities and refugees across the globe will observe World Refugee Day today to pay tribute to the millions of uprooted people struggling to survive against the odds. This year, the day is marked under the theme “real people, real needs” to highlight the unmet needs of refugees around the world.

For the 42 million uprooted people around the world, a shortage or lack of the essentials of life, clean water, food, sanitation, shelter, health care and protection from violence and abuse means that every day can be a struggle just to survive.

This year the world economic crisis is threatening to rip aid budgets and amid enormous global uncertainty. Despite the efforts of many, including UNHCR, the needs of the world’s uprooted people are far from being met.

UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan Ms Guenet Guebre-Christo said this year’s World Refugee Day is significant in Pakistan as it marks three decades of generosity hosting Afghan refugees at a time when the country is also coping with more than 2.5 million Pakistanis uprooted by conflict in the north west of the country.

“No loss is greater than losing one’s home and loved ones”.

80 percent of the world’s refugees and a vast majority of internally displaced persons are in developing nations. Of the global total of uprooted people, UNHCR cares for 25 million, including a record 14.4 million IDPs – up from 13.7 million in 2007 and 10.5 million refugees.

On this World Refugee Day, let us remember that refugees too are real people with real needs. Helping them to rebuild their lives and their communities benefits us all.

– High Commissioner António Gutteres.

“In 2009, we have already seen substantial new displacements, namely in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia. While some displacements may be short-lived, others can take years and even decades to resolve,” said Guterres.

In Pakistan, around 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees remain in the country, although almost 3.5 million have returned home since 2002 with UNHCR assistance. In addition, UNHCR is assisting hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Pakistanis in NWFP as part of a joint UN response.

UNHCR is providing shelter to those in need, and has helped to established camps where some 260,000 people are currently living. The agency is also providing other relief items like sleeping mats, kitchen sets, and mosquito nets to people staying in camps and those staying with friends, relatives or with host families.

Around the world, UNHCR is marking World Refugee Day in different ways – including film screenings, photography exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions, food bazaars, fashion shows, cultural performances and sporting contests.

There will also be quizzes, drawing and essay-writing competitions, tree planting, seminars, workshops, speeches, and poetry recitals.

Image:Official poster of World Refugee day

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