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19.06.2015 Public Statement

We Are All Here In Commemoration of World Refugee Day 2015

By Ms. Linda Phiri - UN
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Upon reflecting on the sense of comfort and warmth that the concept of home is supposed to provide, there is no denying that fact that every individual has the right to that comfort and warmth. Unfortunately there are too many individuals that are deprived of this privilege. One of such group of people are refugees. According to the UNHCR, a refugee is a person “"owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."

There are millions of refugees spattered across several parts of the world and Africa is no exception. Out of the over 51 million refugees worldwide, over 21,000 refugees and asylum seekers are in Ghana.

On World Refugee Day, commemorated on June 20 of every year, we are recognizing the strength and resilience embodied by those who overcome displacement and those who help them in their effort to do so. With continued assistance and global solidarity, the transformation from helplessness to hope and fear to security are dreams that can be molded into reality for our world's refugees, and more specifically those here in Ghana.

Moments of commemoration are crucial in recognizing the daily realities of our brothers and sisters. This year for World Refugee Day, The United Nations Refugee Agency

(UNHCR) is exploring the theme of “Ordinary People Living through Extraordinary

Times”. The Refugee crisis we are faced with highlights the importance of interdependence and peaceful coexistence amongst nations.

On matters of refugee, the United Nations in Ghana has been able to provide spaces for government partnerships in order to ensure protection and access to basic services and provide durable solutions, such as community empowerment through entrepreneurial projects, and educational opportunities, both initiatives that embody the values of the declaration of human rights.

In the words of Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations “ More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. ” We are all here, and each have a role to play, whether it is through discussion, advocacy or merely taking moments to educate ourselves about crises around us. Let us learn from history and not neglect the pressing issues that face us today. Our humanity calls for us to protect the unprotected and provide solitude for those unable to have theirs.

This is why we commend the UNHCR for their enormous support to ensure the protection of the dignity of the many refugees around the world and in particular in Ghana. There is absolutely no doubt that the UNHCR has put a smile on the faces of children, women and men who are identified as refugees in Ghana, by providing them with hope through essential support efforts. We also salute the resilience of all the people we have come to recognize as refugees. They make the course of the UN refugee body worthwhile!

Linda Phiri is an intern with the United Nations Information Centre, Accra