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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

World Refugee Day marked today

June 22, 2008

Nepal News
June 20, 2008

World Refugee Day is being observed throughout the world with primary
focus on protection of refugees this year.

Nepal currently hosts refugees from over a dozen countries, largest
of them from Bhutan and Tibet.

Tibetans have been fighting for free Tibet across the globe since
years while third country resettlement of the Bhutanese refugees has
begun a few months back.

Marking the day which is held on June 20 annually, UN High
Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said that providing
protection for refugees today is vastly more challenging than when
his office began work in 1951 trying to find solutions for Europeans
uprooted in the aftermath of World War II.

"Old barriers to human mobility have fallen and new patterns of
movement have emerged, including forms of forced displacement that
were not envisaged by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention," Guterres said
from Kenya, where he saw firsthand thousands of Somali refugees
uprooted from their conflict-torn country, and Kenyans in the Rift
Valley who were displaced in recent post-election violence.

Global refugee and forced displacement statistics for 2007, released
by the UN refugee agency on Tuesday, showed Somalis were the fifth
largest group of refugees and sixth largest group of internally
displaced people under UNHCR's care worldwide, and the second largest
group claiming asylum after Iraqis. The new statistics showed
globally there were 11.4 million refugees outside their countries and
26 million others displaced internally by conflict or persecution at
the end of 2007, contributing to an unprecedented number of people
uprooted under the care of the UN refugee agency.

After a five-year decline in the number of refugees between 2001 and
2005, this is the second year of increases in refugees and displaced people.

"Conflict today may be motivated by politics, but looking deeper it
can also be about poverty, bad governance, climate change leading to
competition for scarce resources," said Guterres. "Recent food and
fuel shortages have had an immediate and dramatic effect on the poor
and the dispossessed, including refugees and the internally
displaced. Extreme price increases have generated instability and
conflict in many places, with the very real potential of triggering
more displacement," he warned.

Guterres said these new challenges make it all the more important to
find ways to address the increasingly complex root causes of
displacement. The UN refugee agency focuses on protecting the rights
and well-being of refugees, including ensuring that those fleeing
violence and persecution are given access to safety and life-saving
assistance, as well as long-term support during exile and eventual
durable solutions so they can rebuild their lives.

"But our work is becoming increasingly difficult in many parts of the
world. In some countries, efforts to control illegal migration are
failing to make a proper distinction between those who choose to move
and those who are forced to flee because of persecution and
violence," said Guterres adding, "All too often, we see refugees
turned away at the borders of countries where they had hoped to find
safety and asylum." ia June 20 08
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