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Refugees and migration

World Refugee Day 2021: a call for leadership

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Photo: UNHCR / Plaisir Muzogeye

As UNHCR publishes its annual Global Trends report, and ahead of World Refugee Day 2021, Mary Robinson and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reflect on the need for leadership amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland said:

“This World Refugee Day, 82 million people are forcibly displaced from their homes, 26 million in a country that is not their own. Rich countries are still not pulling their weight, with 86% of refugees being hosted in developing countries. Upholding the right to seek and enjoy asylum, and providing durable solutions for refugees, must be the cornerstone of Europe’s approach. Ahead of the European Resettlement Forum, the EU should commit to the European Parliament’s proposal to resettle 20% of the world’s most vulnerable refugees – and make this pledge permanent by adopting the long stalled EU Resettlement Framework. This would offer a durable solution for 280,000 refugees, and would be a demonstration of true global responsibility-sharing.

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate said:

On World Refugee Day, I reflect on how COVID-19 has shown we are all connected to each other. The global response to the pandemic will not be effective unless everyone in society is included within national health policies and programmes for vaccines and treatment, including refugees, IDPs, asylum seekers and those with uncertain legal status. The Covax facility has earmarked a 5% humanitarian buffer specifically to support these kinds of populations who might otherwise fall through the gap. To maximise the effectiveness of the buffer, Governments should take all appropriate measures to ensure that those without legal status can access COVID-19 vaccines and treatment without the risk of arrest, detention or deportation.

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