Wednesday, 20 June 2018 13:06

Statement by Mr. Bruno Geddo, UNHCR Representative in Iraq, on World Refugee Day

“World Refugee Day is a time for reflection and solidarity with people displaced by violence and persecution the world over. In this turbulent and unpredictable time, remembering refugees and internally displaced people is more topical than ever.

Some 68 million people are now uprooted around the world; displaced by conflict, human rights abuses and natural disasters. In an unsettling statistic, in 2017 someone somewhere fled their home every two seconds.

Iraq shelters 300,000 refugees. The majority are from Syria. The Kurdistan Region of Iraq houses 97 per cent of the Syrian refugees in Iraq, generously received and afforded equal access with locals to employment, education and social services. It is of vital importance that the communities who opened their doors to Syrian refugees are empowered, and donor funding to invest in the institutions that support the refugees and host communities increases. This will help ensure that social cohesion and peaceful coexistence amongst communities is more effectively pursued.

The best solution to forced displacement is peace. Peace would bring down the number of refugees and internally displaced people across the world, and dramatically improve perspectives for the future for millions of people.

But after seven years, the Syrian conflict shows no sign of abating. Every day people cross the Syrian border to escape the fighting, amounting to 700 new arrivals every month.

For the 250,000 Syrian refugees sheltering in Iraq, return is not a sustainable option at present. Resettlement opportunities are limited, and available only to the most acutely vulnerable. Syrian refugees in Iraq and the communities that host them will continue to need support for some time to come.

As the Syrian crisis protracts and deepens, it is time to think creatively about our refugee response. In collaboration with the Kurdish authorities and partner agencies and NGOs, UNHCR is exploring new and sustainable solutions for refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. By investing in the host communities and public services, strengthening access to education and skills acquisition, we hope to help refugees rebuild their lives. Refugees need to be included in new communities and have the chance to put down new roots, and realize their potential.

As forced displacement worldwide increases year on year, helping refugees rebuild their lives must be a shared responsibility. Hand in hand with partners, the Iraqi and Kurdish people, and refugee communities themselves, we at UNHCR work tirelessly to try and find sustainable solutions for refugees in Iraq.

On World Refugee Day we recognize that solidarity starts with every one of us.”

For more information contact:
Kate Pond
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+964 780 920 7286 (Baghdad)

Mustafa Aldalawi
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+964 7801958468 (Baghdad)

Rasheed H Rasheed
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+964 7507130014 (Duhok)

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNHCR

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