The world is witnessing an unprecedented level of human displacement – every day, 44,500 people are displaced; that is the equivalent of one person every two seconds.
In its Global Trends report, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that there were 68 million forcibly displaced persons in the world at the end of 2017, half of whom were under the age of 18.
People leaving their homes for the unknown, in hope of finding a safer and more secure future, are often triggered by the ravages of war, famine, political instability and the deleterious effects of climate change.
As long as there are wars and persecution, there will be refugees. On World Refugee Day, I ask you to remember them. Their story is one of resilience, perseverance and courage. Ours must be of solidarity, compassion and action. --António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
For the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, protecting refugees, safeguarding their rights and delivering services to those in transition or crisis is a priority.
Volunteerism is key to realizing a sustainable and equitable future for all, in line with the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
Onsite and online, UN Volunteers around the world support UN partners and Member States in delivering for refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons. They are present at the front lines of refugee crises on every continent.
UN Volunteers provide extensive support to refugees and internally displaced persons, working closely with our partners UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and IOM. UNV has also successfully deployed refugees as UN Volunteers with UNRWA in Lebanon, recognizing their capacity to take the lead in their communities. I salute the contributions made for and by refugees. --Olivier Adam, UNV Executive Coordinator
In 2017, 834 UN Volunteers served with UNHCR, 350 with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 173 with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), 98 with the World Food Programme (WFP) and 22 with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Many others served refugees through their assignments with the UN Development Programme, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women and World Health Organization, to name just a few of our partners.
UN Volunteers facilitate durable solutions for the uprooted with the UN Refugee Agency and mobilize refugee volunteers who improve wellbeing and ease conflict in Kenya. They respond to displacement in Venezuela through integration in Trinidad and Tobago and tackle the challenge of refugee integration in Europe.
More stories will follow this week as we highlight how UN Volunteers bolster the UNFPA Rohingya Humanitarian Response, and feature the experiences of UN Volunteers – some refugees themselves – serving in Armenia, Brazil, Turkey and Zambia. We will also share insights on Online Volunteers supporting UN and civil society partners, including the UN Refugee Agency and Norwegian Refugee Council.
In a world where violence forces thousands of families and individuals to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.
This World Refugee Day, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees, and the dedication of volunteers who stand #WithRefugees.
Each day war forces thousands of families to flee their homes. People like you, people like me. To escape the violence, they leave everything behind – everything except their hopes and dreams for a safer future.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, believes all refugees deserve to live in safety.
Sign the UNHCR #WithRefugees petition to send a clear message to decision makers that they must act with solidarity and shared responsibility.
The petition asks decision makers to:
- Ensure every refugee child gets an education.
- Ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
- Ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to support their families.
The campaign continues until a global compact for refugees is adopted in 2018. On World Refugee Day, we stand together #WithRefugees. Please stand with us.