Human Rights Commissioner Strässer on World Refugee Day

20.06.2015 - Press release

The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Christopher Strässer, issued the following statement on 20 June on World Refugee Day and on the latest statistics on worldwide displacement published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

Terrible reports of waves of refugees from Syria and Iraq, where people are trying to save themselves and their loved ones from day‑to‑day violence, reach us almost every day. What is more, people are being forced to leave their homes and abandon most of their belongings owing to armed conflict, severe human rights violations or the consequences of climate change not only in the conflicts in the Middle East that are in the media spotlight, but also in a host of other regions, such as Afghanistan, Somalia, the Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar, which are sometimes referred to as “forgotten crises”.

According to current United Nations statistics, there are some 60 million displaced people around the world, half of whom are children. The Federal Foreign Office made over 400 million euros available for humanitarian aid abroad in 2014 alone in order to alleviate their almost unimaginable suffering, a large part of which is earmarked for refugees. Moreover, Germany is one of the largest and most important host countries for refugees in Europe.

It is our ethical responsibility, together with our national and international partners, to provide these people with humanitarian aid, ensure their survival and allow them to live their lives in dignity.

Background information:

Each year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) publishes its annual report on worldwide displacement to coincide with World Refugee Day on 20 June. According to the report, there were approximately 60 million displaced persons in 2014, a rise from around 51 million in 2013. This is the biggest leap ever seen in a single year.

With an increase of 51 per cent compared with the previous year, Europe witnessed the largest rise in the number of refugees in relative terms. This jump is accounted for by the conflict in Ukraine, the refugees arriving by boat from across the Mediterranean and the civil war in Syria. In the context of the conflict in Syria, Turkey became the world’s top refugee-hosting nation in 2014 with some 1.6 million Syrian refugees.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, the Federal Foreign Office has made available funds in excess of 460 million euros to its partners – the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and humanitarian non‑governmental organisations – to help alleviate the humanitarian emergency in Syria; the funds are primarily earmarked for refugees and internally displaced persons.

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