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World Refugee Day 2020: Every Action Counts

Relief WebStatement by Ms. Asako Okai on the occasion of the World Refugee Day

COVID-19 has exposed the full extent of human vulnerability. Recent UNDP estimates show that the Human Development Index – a combined measure of the world’s education, health, and living standards – is on course to decline this year for the first time since measurement began in 1990. Developing countries and those in crisis will suffer the most, along with the already vulnerable all over the world –– particularly the 79.5 million women, children, and men who have been forced from their homes. During 2019, an estimated 11.0 million people were newly displaced, renewing the highest number of forced displacements on record of the previous year. No effort should be spared to protect them.

On this World Refugee Day, we stand in solidarity with refugees and the communities that host them around the globe. We renew our commitment to do our part, as one of the lead development agencies in the UN family, to deploy the full extent of our capacities and expertise on the ground, working hand in hand with our partners to support relief and recovery efforts.

UNDP recognizes the moral imperative of addressing the needs and vulnerabilities of those forcibly displaced, especially women and children, while supporting countries to recover from the pandemic. As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “none of us is safe until everyone is safe.” We commend the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for outlining with clarity how the Global Compact on Refugees applies in the international response and for highlighting the critical importance of partnerships in our collective responses. We remain fully engaged in implementing the commitments we have made at the Global Refugee Forum last December.

In our role as the designated technical lead within the UN System on socio-economic recovery from COVID-19, we are promoting integrated, whole of government and whole of society responses. We are working with UNHCR, for example, to ensure that socio-economic data and analysis on refugees feed into socio-economic impact assessments. We have also stressed the importance of including these communities in assessments and recovery plans, and we are striving to deploy innovative solutions jointly with our partners. In Turkey, for example, we are harnessing digital technology to minimize the impact on the livelihoods of both refugees and host communities, especially among youth. In Ethiopia, we are working with UNHCR in supporting the police, local authorities, and refugee/host communities to counter stigma and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Recently, UNDP has joined Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the World Bank, and other international partners in a global call to action to keep remittances flowing in these times of crisis.

UNDP has laid out its forward-looking vision for building back better from COVID-19, working closely with national and international partners. Our ambition is to push beyond a simple recovery –– we want to usher in the transformations that can put the world back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which are the best investment we can make to build a more sustainable and peaceful future. Inclusion, solidarity, and global cooperation must be the principles upon which we base our actions.

More than ever, we believe this is the opportunity for humanitarian and development partners to join forces to reach the furthest behind first ––not only to meet their urgent humanitarian needs, but to reduce risk and vulnerability, and build long-term resilience. As the global campaign for this World Refugee Day says, every action counts.

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