68.5 million people worldwide are displaced © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

 

“In these testing times we must remember and defend the basic gesture of solidarity: offering refuge to those in need of protection” said lead MEPs ahead of World Refugee Day.

To mark World Refugee Day on 20 June, EP rapporteur for Humanitarian Assistance, Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D, ES), and Development Committee Chair, Linda McAvan(S&D, UK), made the following statement:

“Today, the World Refugee Day must serve to remind us of the deeper meaning of this commemoration. In recent years the European Parliament’s Committee on Development has regularly called attention to the growing number of people forced to flee their homes—some 68.5 million worldwide, more than ever before in history—overwhelmingly due to violent conflict.

We have also noted humanitarian assistance alone cannot meet the growing needs resulting from displacement. Whilst this provides a lifeline to people in need, this is not a sustainable solution. Often an end to the conflict is necessary to allow the return of displaced populations. Yet this can be elusive: Afghan, Sudanese or Somali refugees spend decades in displacement camps, while this year marks the 70th anniversary of the world’s longest standing refugee crisis of Palestinians. Until  refugees can return to their homes, increasing development efforts to enhance the self-reliance of refugees and displaced persons is essential.

The EU provides humanitarian and development assistance and works towards ending conflicts such as the one in Syria. But on this year’s World Refugee Day, the EU should reflect on what the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol represent. These documents set out the obligation under international law to provide refugee to anyone forced to flee their homes due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted.

Beyond its legal obligations, the Refugee Convention embodies an act of human solidarity. As countries prepare to conclude a Global Compact on Refugees this year, we see at the same time increasingly hostile rhetoric and policies against refugees. In these testing times we must remember and defend the basic gesture of solidarity and human empathy which is at the root of the refugee system: offering refuge to those in need of protection.”

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