“Like millions of refugees around the world, they are helping to bring new life, prosperity and rich diversity to their host communities. We must continue to support them, “the UN chief said on Twitter after the visit.
He is ahead # World Refugee DayI visited refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan who currently live in New York.
Like millions of refugees around the world, they help bring new life, prosperity and rich diversity to their host communities. We must continue to support them. pic.twitter.com/Zew5oV8RP6
– Antonio Guterres (@antonioguterres) June 18, 2022
Mr. Guterres, who was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, stressed the vital role of developed nations in accepting refugees and providing them with opportunities, no matter who they are or where they come from.
To live “in limbo”
Mr. Guterres’ first stop was in Brooklyn, where he visited Susan Al Shamari, an Iraqi refugee who fled Baghdad with her family in 2010 to Cairo, Egypt.
Registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCRthey later settled in California and from there, with additional assistance, reached New York.
Miss. Al-Shamari told the secretary-general that since she grew up in a war, she wanted to be able to support other refugees. In this spirit, she is currently an associate of a non-governmental organization (NGO) – she recently graduated with a master’s degree.
“Every day you think it will be the last. And it’s not just one of those things … it could literally be your last. When I went to Egypt with my family, it was also difficult to be there as a refugee in obscurity. So, moving to the United States, no matter how great the blessing, took me several years to agree that “I will not die tomorrow.” said Al Shamari.
Resettlement provides a “second chance” for those forced to flee, she said. Al Shamari.
“Bringing refugees is a life-saving measure and is something that every leader, every country must contribute to and be responsible for,” she said.
After being given the opportunity for a good education, a safe new home and fluency in the language of the host country, the Iraqi refugee admitted that she was “one of the lucky ones”.
“I can tell from my personal experience” it is not easy to come to a country you do not know, to a language you do not speak. Both my parents were engineers in Iraq and [now] they can’t work with their diplomas, “she said. Al Shamari explained.
She believes it will help “if businesses take more initiative, hire refugees and create more opportunities for immigrants”.
Every day you think it will be the last – overpopulated Iraqi refugee
“You see, some will hear their accent, they’ll hear that they don’t speak English well, and they’ll say, ‘I don’t think that’s going to work.'”
Displaced in Iraq
According to the latest UN figures, there are currently about 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq, among more than six million initially displaced by violence involving the ISIL terrorist network from 2014 to 2017.
Iraq, meanwhile, hosts more than 290,000 refugees from Syria and other countries, mostly in the Kurdistan region, which hosted 25 of the country’s 26 camps in early 2020.
Established in the United States
Mr. Guterres then traveled to Queens to visit a couple of Afghan refugees, Shafi Alif and Rohina Sofizada, who greeted him with spicy green tea and traditional Afghan delicacies.
Talking over his glasses, Mr. Alif reveals that in 1992, when he was five months old, his family walked for 40 days to seek refuge in Pakistan, where they remained for more than 10 years.
They registered with UNHCR, which later helped them return voluntarily to Afghanistan in 2002. The UN agency provided financial support when they settled back in Kabul, including for transportation and a stipend.
The couple agreed to have “peaceful years” in the country until 2018.
Working with the US Embassy in Kabul, Ms. Sofizada received a special visa for resettlement in the United States and Mr. Alif, who worked with the Polish army in the Afghan capital, later joined her on a special immigrant visa.
A family that stayed
Although happy to reach the United States, they are worried about their family in Pakistan, which has left Kabul again after the Taliban took power last August.
“My family was rejected at the border twice, I even had them all [the necessary] visas and documents“, Said Ms. Sofizada. “We are relieved to be here, but we are still worried about our loved ones.”
Mr. Shafi also works to assist newcomers as an NGO employee, supporting the arriving Afghan evacuees and parolees.
He claims that no refugee is “happy to leave their country”, but they do so under the threat of violence or persecution.
He advocated “more resettlement sites” and basic necessities – such as housing – to better contribute to their new communities.
We are still worried about our loved ones – overpopulated Afghan refugee
According to UNHCR, Afghans are one of the largest refugees in the world.
There are 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees worldwide, of which 2.2 million are registered in Iran and Pakistan alone. And another 3.5 million are internally displaced.
More than half of Afghanistan’s population, or 24 million people, face acute food insecurity, and 97 percent believe they live well below the poverty line.
Call for open borders
After hearing these compelling stories, Mr. Guterres called on developed countries to do more.
He reminded them of their role in welcoming and giving refugees a chance to start safely from scratch, away from humiliating camps or poor housing.
The Secretary-General recalled that when he headed UNHCR, there were twice as many opportunities for resettlement of refugees and called on more countries to open their borders to asylum seekers.
Escape for safety
In 2021, 86% of all resettlement cases filed by UNHCR are for survivors of torture or violence and people in need of legal and physical protection.
Most were vulnerable women and girls and just over half of the concerned children.
According to the UN, the world reached a dramatic stage in May, 10 weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“Together with women, children and men fleeing conflict elsewhere in the world,” the total number of IDPs has reached 100 million – a grim indictment for our time“The UN chief said in a message on World Refugee Day.
“The global refugee population is at a record high,” he said, noting that the war in Ukraine had caused “the largest and fastest displacement in Europe since World War II.”
Right to safety
The UN chief called on everyone to think about “the courage and resilience of those fleeing war, violence and persecution”, while acknowledging “the compassion of those who welcome them”.
He confirmed that the day affirms a basic principle of our common humanity: “Everyone has the right to seek safety – whoever he may be, whence he comes and when he is forced to flee.”
Under international law, the right to seek asylum is a fundamental human right.
Хо People fleeing violence or persecution must be able to cross borders safely… not face discrimination… be unfairly denied refugee or asylum status because of their race, religion, gender or country of origin…[or] they will be forced to return if their lives or freedoms are at risk, “he said.
People who have escaped violence or persecution must be able to cross borders safely – head of the UN
“And like everyone, we have to treat them with respect.”
But safety is only the first step. When resettled, refugees must be given the opportunity to seek medical treatment, study, work, prosper, return home if they choose, or rebuild their lives elsewhere, in safety and dignity, d. n. said Guterres.
“All over the world, refugees have brought new life, prosperity and rich cultural diversity to their host communities,” and their protection is “a responsibility we all share.”
He encouraged everyone to commit to doing more for both refugees and host countries.
“Let us stand together in solidarity … to defend the integrity of the international defense regime … and let us never lose sight of our common humanity“, Concluded the Secretary General.