Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (20 June) on the occasion of World Refugee Day:
The number of people who have been forced to flee war, conflict and persecution has risen once again. Some 79.5 million people have had to leave their homes and are living in their countries of origin as internally displaced persons or have fled across national borders. This is roughly equivalent to the population of Germany and is a very sad new record number. Less than ten percent of refugees live in Europe. The overwhelming majority have found refuge in their neighbouring countries, which often suffer from crises and poverty themselves.
Particularly now – in view of the global spread of coronavirus – the protection and care of refugees is a necessity that often makes the difference between life and death. Together with our partners, we are working to prevent the virus from spreading among refugees, who often have to live in cramped conditions. It is also clear that shelters for refugees must remain in place at a time of border closures as a result of COVID-19.
People who are affected by displacement and forced migration around the world must be able to live their lives in dignity. Furthermore, they must be given the opportunity to develop their potential and to make a positive contribution in their host communities. We are committed to this cause around the world and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is our most important partner in this context.