Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Refugee Day, observed on 20 June:
War, violence and persecution have forced more than 80 million people around the world to flee their homes, leaving everything behind to save themselves and their families. Refugees must begin their lives anew.
But for so many, the [COVID-19] pandemic has wiped out their livelihoods, led to stigmatization and vilification and exposed them disproportionately to the virus.
At the same time, refugees once again demonstrated their invaluable contribution to their adoptive societies as essential and front-line workers.
We have a duty to help refugees rebuild their lives. COVID-19 has shown us that we can only succeed if we stand together.
On World Refugee Day, I call on communities and Governments to include refugees in health care, education, and sport.
We heal together when we all get the care we need. We learn together when we are all given the chance to study. We shine together when we play as a team and respect everyone.
On World Refugee Day, I commend the countries that have welcomed refugees. But we need more support — from States, the private sector, communities and individuals — if we are to move together towards a more inclusive future free of discrimination.
The refugees I have met have shown me what it means to rebuild your own life while summoning the strength to enrich the lives of others. As United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years, I was inspired by their courage, resilience and determination.
I thank refugees and displaced persons across the world and reiterate my personal admiration for what they have taught us all about the power of hope and healing.
This World Refugee Day and every day, we stand together with refugees.