On the occasion of World Refugee Day, Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement today (19 June):
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Grandi presented the statistics on refugees worldwide for the first time in Berlin and not at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva. I see this as a sign of great recognition of Germany’s important contribution to global refugee protection.
The current UNHCR figures confirm once again that increasing numbers of people throughout the world are being driven from their homes by violence – whether within their own country or across national borders as refugees. Germany has taken in many refugees who have experienced suffering and war. Yet we must not forget that 91 percent of refugees do not live in the European Union but have for the most part been taken in by developing countries or emerging economies. These people, too, require our support. And they need new prospects for their lives. For human dignity is inviolable. That tenet applies to everyone.
Yet on World Refugee Day, we should also call to mind why UNHCR and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees actually exist: it is because in the wake of the Second World War, millions of Europeans were themselves refugees seeking protection. At that time, the international community agreed that we all bear a common responsibility for people forced to flee their homes as a result of war, violence and persecution. Just under 70 years later, Germany itself, as the second largest donor to the UNHCR, is now making a crucial contribution to enabling refugees throughout the world to live in safety and with dignity. That, too, is multilateralism in practice.