June 20, 2017
"I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need" — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
Each year since 2001, 20 June is observed as the World Refugee Day, highlighting the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. According to the UN, every minute 20 people flee their country to escape war, persecution or terror. It is often the minority and indigenous communities that are displaced, finding themselves at the hands of persecution, political, economic and social exclusion or in the midst of violent conflict. UNPO is committed in advocating for the protection and respect of the rights of marginalised peoples in the world sometimes unfortunately rendered even more vulnerable by displacement. At a time when exclusive nationalist rhetoric dominates mainstream discourse, the protection of these oppressed and marginalised peoples even after receiving asylum becomes particularly necessary.
On this day, therefore, it is particularly important for the international community to demonstrate that the world stands with refugees by taking concrete and long-term actions. In June 2016, the #WithRefugees petition was first launched by UN Refugee Agency September 2016 aimed at putting pressure on governments to implement tangible initiatives to help refugees. With this the initiative underlined global leaders’ duty to ensure that every refugee child gets an education and that every family has somewhere safe to live and the right to work and learn new skills to support their families. Following this, in September 2016, world leaders agreed to work towards a Global Compact for refugees in 2018.
Therefore, UNPO reiterates its commitment to the protection of displaced peoples, and ensuring that in their rehabilitation their fundamental human rights are respected. On 6 June 2017, UNPO held a conference focusing on Iraq’s displaced minorities entitled ““Post-ISIS Ninewa: The European Response” hosted by Ms Ana Gomes and Mr Elmar Brok, Members of the European Parliament, and jointly organised by the Institute for International Law and Human Rights (IILHR), the Multinational Development Policy Dialogue of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and Minority Rights Group International (MRG). The conference focussed on the crisis of displacement in Iraq and shed light on the lack of domestic and international planning for the rehabilitation of Iraq’s minority communities, such as the Assyrians, Yazidi and Iraqi Turkmen displaced in the Iraq conflict from the Ninewa plains. Since its foundation, UNPO has been consistently fighting against any form of intolerance, exclusion, harassment, violence, extremism, and terror. Therefore, on this day it is particularly important for the international community to turn its attention to the vulnerability of displaced peoples to these offences and their deprivation of fundamental human rights in their search for safety.