Co-Chairs on World Refugee Day: We Must Remain Resilient, for Refugees and Host Countries Alike
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressmen Randy Hultgren and James P. McGovern, Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, issued the following statement to mark World Refugee Day, observed on June 20th every year as a time to remember the millions of people around the world who have been forced to flee their home countries because of conflict and persecution.
“The resilience of refugees in the face of immense hardships around the globe embodies the best of the human spirit. We in the United States and the international community should follow their example as we seek solutions to the refugee crisis.
“This year, more people than ever are forcibly displaced worldwide. In its annual Global Trends report, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) documented a record high in the global population of forcibly displaced people: 65.6 million in 2016, including 40.3 million internally displaced people, 22.5 million refugees, and 2.8 million asylum-seekers. While the numbers of internally displaced people and asylum-seekers declined somewhat, the figure of 22.5 million seeking safety across international borders as refugees is the highest ever. Over half of refugees are children under 18 years of age.
“As in 2015, last year the largest number of refugees – 5.5 million – came from Syria, followed by Afghanistan (2.5 million). But the crisis in South Sudan created the fastest growing refugee population of 1.4 million – a group that grew by 64 percent during the second half of 2016 alone.
“Even as violence and persecution continue to force people to flee, millions of uprooted men, women, and children around the world persevere through the daily demands of life in settlement camps and foreign lands. The humanitarian aid we offer can nourish hope, but we should recognize the great endurance that is needed to survive emergencies, rebuild lives with autonomy, and integrate into new societies.
“We in the United States and the international community should learn from the resilience of refugees as we collectively search for ways to provide temporary and permanent safe haven or resettlement while protecting national security and the rule of law and maintaining our national values of welcoming immigrants looking for a place of refuge and a better life.”