On World Refugee Day: Everyone has the right to seek safety
20 June 2022
Erbil, Kurdistan region of Iraq: This year, World Refugee Day reminds us that every person has a right to seek safety – whoever they are, wherever they come from and whenever they are forced to flee conflict or persecution.
In Iraq and especially in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), we commend the people and authorities for the welcome extended to some 300,000 Syrian, Iranian, Turkish and other refugees and asylum-seekers of which over 90 percent live in the KRI.
Today, as Iraq is recovering from years of armed violence and internal displacements due to the fight against ISIL (Da’esh), UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, stands with refugees and communities who have been hosting them as the country heads towards stability and prosperity.
UNHCR praises the authorities in Iraq, particularly in KRI, for providing healthcare and soon education to the refugees through their public systems, and for having allowed them to fend for themselves by getting jobs. Funding for humanitarian emergency responses around the world is being overstretched, as partners must address the needs of the 100 million people who have been forced to leave their homes, most recently in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. Nonetheless, UNHCR remains committed to supporting the Iraqi and KRI authorities and people in their efforts to help refugees restore their lives with dignity.
“Today, on World Refugee Day, we celebrate the generosity that the authorities and people in Iraq, especially in the KRI, have demonstrated even during their own adversity: they have opened their doors and hearts to shelter and protect those displaced from neighboring countries and their own sisters and brothers who fled ISIL (Da’esh) violence. Seeing today in Erbil how so many refugees have been able to resume dignified lives is a testament to their resilience, but also to the hospitality of their hosts. UNHCR remains committed to working together with the authorities and the international community to support host communities and refugees alike. On this day, it is also important to reiterate the importance of keeping borders open to allow safe passage to those who flee violence and persecution - whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee, we must be prepared to welcome them, like Iraq and the KRI has done in particular in relation to Syrian refugees.” said Jean-Nicolas Beuze, Representative of UNHCR in Iraq.
Durable solutions for those who were forced to flee must be sought, especially in protracted situations and until the time refugees can go home in safety and dignity. In Iraq, UNHCR is investing in existing public services to strengthen their capacity to serve both host and displaced communities through readily accessible interventions of high quality. Ultimately, it is to the benefit of all that refugees become more self-reliant and engage in the local economy so that they no longer depend on humanitarian assistance and contribute to the communities that welcomed them.