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World Refugee Day 20 June 2018

Critical time to welcome refugees, says UN rights expert 

GENEVA (19 June 2018) – The world must act now to help those forced to leave their homes by overwhelming circumstances says a UN rights expert. In a statement to mark World Refugee Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, is urging people to support action to help refugees, including education, shelter and training for work:

“Every minute, 20 people from different geographical, racial, linguistic and religious backgrounds are forced to leave their homes by hatred or conflict. Most of them come from minorities and are vulnerable and marginalised.

On World Refugee Day we focus on the respect and deference owed to the strength, resilience and courage shown by each refugee during her or his individual journey. We must now act on our common feelings of empathy and solidarity and do everything in our power to unite humanity against hatred and conflict.

Human dignity can be attained by respecting our neighbours including the minorities among us. To attain human dignity, by all and for all, ongoing commitment by governments towards the respect of human rights is fundamental.

The recent rise in tragedies across the globe has increased refugee populations, which has subsequently led to polarised ideologies around the world. As such, it is a critical time to welcome refugees with deference and a time for us to unite in diversity. We must all acknowledge the dignity of refugees and their human rights.

In June 2016, the UN Refugee Agency launched the #WithRefugees petition that pursues commitment by governments to education for refugee children, safe shelter for refugee families, and the freedom for refugees to contribute to their society by working or developing new skills.

I invite you to take action by joining nearly two million other people who have already signed the #WithRefugees petition to support this initiative, along with refugees around the world.”

ENDS

Mr. Fernand de Varennes was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2017. He is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For further inquiries and media requests, please contact Anis Anani (+41 22 9179167 / aanani@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org