Paul Samasumo – Vatican City
79.5 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees. Of these, half are said to be under the age of eighteen. According to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, Africa has over 18 million displaced persons.
The majority of displaced persons, in Africa, come from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, and Cameroon.
I salute communities that shelter refugees
As the world commemorates 20 June 2020, World Refugee Day, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said the world is marking the day against a backdrop of a dramatic global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As we battle COVID-19, I draw inspiration from the resilience refugees have shown in overcoming their own crisis of displacement and dispossession; their separation from home and family; and their determination to improve their own and others' lives, despite these and other hardships," said Grandi.
He continued, "On World Refugee Day, I salute and celebrate the fortitude of refugees and displaced people around the world. I also pay tribute to the communities that shelter them, and that have demonstrated the universally shared values and principles of compassion and humanity. They have sometimes hosted and protected refugees for years or even generations, and continuing to uphold these values in a time of pandemic is a powerful message of hope and solidarity," the UNHCR Commissioner said.
Scalabrinian nuns and Refugees
Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, Superior General of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo (Scalabrinians), said that most of those forced to flee are victims of conflicts, persecutions, violence, or natural disasters.
Sister Neusa cited Pope Francis, who says that, Refugees are not just numbers but people who have faces, names, stories, and need to be treated as such. Sister Neusa further says as Scalabrinians, they long to see the day when politicians, local, national and international leaders will not be indifferent to the plight of migrants and refugees.
Migrants and refugees in Libya are very vulnerable
UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) have joined forces in Libya to reach up to 10,000 food-insecure refugees and asylum seekers with emergency food aid this year. The partnership was launched in recognition of the severe socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya as well as the effects of the ongoing conflict.
The Sahel emergency
UNHCR is equally alarmed over escalating armed attacks in the Sahel region that has seen hundreds of innocent civilians targeted in recent weeks. The violence has triggered more displacement and is seriously hindering humanitarian activities.
The terrorist attacks and ensuing counter-security operations have led to more people fleeing their homes for security.
A Twitter emoji from Ivory Coast
In the meantime, the UN Refugee Agency, partnered with Twitter and 22-year-old Ivorian artist O'Plérou Grebet for the launch of the 2020 World Refugee Day emoji. The emoji, two hands linked together in the shape of a heart, symbolises solidarity and diversity. The Twitter emoji has the hashtags: #WorldRefugeeDay, #RefugeeDay and #WithRefugees in 12 languages. It will be live until 23 June.
World Refugee Day, celebrates the courage and resilience of millions of people forced to flee their homes.