News / Americas

Millions Pay Tribute on World Refugee Day

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, left, adjusts his earphones as Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff addresses the opening session of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20, 2012.UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, left, adjusts his earphones as Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff addresses the opening session of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20, 2012.
x
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, left, adjusts his earphones as Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff addresses the opening session of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20, 2012.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, left, adjusts his earphones as Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff addresses the opening session of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20, 2012.
VOA News
Many people around the world are marking World Refugee Day Wednesday by paying tribute to the more than 42 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes.

In a special message, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "refugees leave because they have no choice."  He said everyone must choose to help.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the United States joins the international community in commemorating the courage and determination of the millions of refugees.  She said the U.S. is committed to protecting and assisting displaced people.

On Tuesday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres visited Ecuador, where he pledged to continue working to ensure the rights of the largest refugee population in South America.  He is spending World Refugee Day in Rio de Janeiro at a U.N. environmental summit.

In its annual report this week, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said a record 800,000 people were forced to flee across borders last year, more than at any time since 2000.  The agency said those refugees were among the 4.3 million people who were displaced last year, largely because of humanitarian crises in Ivory Coast, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and other countries.

Ban said those numbers are more than statistics.  He said they are people and families whose lives have been upended, whose communities have been destroyed and whose future is uncertain.

UNHCR says one out of every four refugees in the world is from Afghanistan, and 95 percent of them live in Iran or Pakistan.

Since 2002, about 5.5 million Afghans have returned to their country.  But 1.7 million are still registered in Pakistan, scattered among 80 camps.

While millions of Afghans have gone home, the agency says many often find it hard to reintegrate into the villages they left.  Some have returned to Pakistan.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Attack on Colombian Police Kills 7

Defense ministry vows to 'maintain and intensify' operations against armed groups, drug traffickers following the attack
More

Chronically Hungry Numbers Decline

Three U.N. agencies have released the State of Food Security in the World report
More

UN: Enforced Disappearances Continue Unabated Globally

UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances says more than 43,000 cases from 88 countries still remain to be clarified
More

Hurricane Odile Weakens, Still a Threat to Mexico

Odile could drench Baja California with as much as 46 centimeters of rain by Friday
More

Powerful Hurricane Threatens Mexico's Baja California

US forecasters have downgraded Odile to strong Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour
More

Hard-hitting Films Tackle Homelessness at Toronto Festival

'Time Out of Mind,' 'Shelter,' and 'Heaven Knows What' all focus on characters struggling with homelessness, addiction on the streets of New York
More