Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (19 June) on tomorrow’s World Refugee Day:
It is becoming ever more common for people to be forced to leave their homes due to violent conflicts, persecution or massive human rights violations. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are over 70 million refugees in the world. Just under 26 million of these people have fled their homeland, while over 41 million are internally displaced. These figures are shocking.
When someone finds themselves forced to leave their home, they often do so at extremely short notice and in exceptionally difficult circumstances. It is our moral duty to provide humanitarian aid in such cases to enable people to live in dignity and safety. Humanitarian aid organisations play a key role in helping people in crisis regions. We thus work to ensure that these organisations have humanitarian access to people in need. Unfortunately, humanitarian access can no longer be taken for granted.
We must work together to support the aid organisations that look after refugees and internally displaced people. We must support the countries, municipalities and regions that take in particularly large numbers of refugees. I thus very much welcome the fact that the Federal Foreign Office supported UNHCR programmes by providing funding of approximately 325 million euros last year. Our support to UNHCR this year will focus on funding to implement the Global Compact on Refugees and to hold the first Global Refugee Forum. Along with the international community, civil society and refugees themselves, we are endeavouring to find lasting solutions to refugee situations and to ensure that refugees do not depend on long-term humanitarian assistance. In many parts of the world, people are refugees or internally displaced for years. We in Germany are not always aware of their situation. Refugees from the Central African Republic live in Cameroon and Chad, and there are over 500,000 internally displaced persons in the country itself. A peace agreement between the government and rebel groups has been in place for four months. We should do everything we can to support this, as peace is the prerequisite for people returning voluntarily to their country in dignity and safety. Germany has been a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since the start of the year. Along with the international community, we are striving to contain crises and conflicts or to stop them from arising in the first place. This is without a doubt the most effective action we can take to reduce the causes of refugee movements.
The mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is to protect and assist refugees, internally displaced persons, asylum seekers, stateless persons and returnees around the world. UNHCR is the guardian of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the most important international document on the protection of refugees.
Germany is one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid. In 2018, the Federal Foreign Office provided approximately 1.5 billion euros in humanitarian aid. At the same time, Germany is working internationally to innovate and strengthen the humanitarian system. In a parallel effort, the Federal Foreign Office has joined forces with people and partners involved in Germany’s cultural relations and education policy to significantly increase cultural work in crisis-hit regions.