Ethiopia scores United Nations praise for welcoming refugees despite challenges

Cheryl Sanders
June 24, 2017

"We reflect on the courage of those who fled and the compassion of those who welcome them", the Secretary-General said in his video message for World Refugee Day, marked annually on 20 June.

The figure that includes refugees, asylum seekers and people uprooted inside their own countries was some 300,000 higher at the end of previous year than at the end of 2015, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said.

While refugee children in Uganda enjoy the full existing legal, physical and social protection system as the host population and use the same social services as them, UNICEF said more must be done to fully operationalize this agenda for action across the region, especially keeping families together, helping all uprooted children stay in school and stay healthy, and acting on the causes that force children to flee in the first place.

Among the refugees, asylum seekers - people who have fled their country and are seeking global protection - totaled 2.8 million by the end of 2016.

The conflict in Syria has produced the largest number of refugees at 5.5 million and displaced people overall at 12 million people.

These people are classified as internally displaced people.

With a record 65.6 million people past year forcibly uprooted from their homes by violence and persecution, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on June 20 called on the worldwide community to provide support and solidarity.

Another 22.5 million people - half of them children - were registered as refugees past year, the UNHCR report showed, "the highest level ever recorded".

A crowd of displaced people look on as members of the United Nations multi-national police contingent provide security during a visit of UNCHR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi to South Sudan's largest camp for the internally-displaced, in.

The main country of origin for refugees in 2016 was Syria, accounting for 5.5 million refugees.

Worldwide, most refugees - 84 per cent - were in low- or middle-income countries as of end 2016, with one in every three (4.9 million people) being hosted by the least developed countries.

South Sudan "is a huge, international-scale crisis since the refugees are dispersed among a number of countries that are in many cases poorer", it said.

The U.N. attributes a lot of that uptick to the Syrian war.

Colombia was second with 7.7 million people forcibly displaced and Afghanistan with 4.7 million. The new approach stipulates that political, economic, development and humanitarian actors should engage from the outset of a displacement crisis, and work with third countries towards the gradual socio-economic inclusion of the forcibly displaced.

"We hope that further progress on the peace talks can lay the groundwork for the peace and reconciliation needed for IDPs and refugees to return home voluntarily, in safety and dignity, in the near future", said Vivian Tan.

Besides Syria and South Sudan, Monday's report also pointed to large-scale displacement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan. "But, Lebanon, another one of the neighboring countries, is the country that has the highest per capita ratio compared to the local population in terms of the number of refugees".

It also rejected a motion from Pauline Hanson and independent Cory Bernardi calling for Australia to pull out of the United Nations refugee convention.

That's 300,000 more people than the year before. People internally displaced are defined as still living in their home country, but have nowhere to actually live.

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