Today, 20 June 2022, the global community assembles to honour World Refugee Day and celebrates the strength and courage of those who have been forced to flee their country to escape conflict or persecution.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the number of people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes has now surpassed 100 million. Today’s displaced encompasses 4.1 million people who are seeking asylum and 48 million people who are displaced within their own countries due to violence, instability, and natural disasters. Furthermore, the number of people who have been forced to flee conflict and human rights violations increased significantly due to the war in Ukraine as well as conflicts in other countries, such as Ethiopia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Signatory States of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are expected to cooperate with the UNHCR in order to ensure that the rights of refugees are protected and respected. Recently, the UNHCR has intervened in order to stop UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s plan to deport asylum seekers from the United Kingdom to Rwanda. The UN stated that the scheme failed to meet the required standards of legality and appropriateness for transferring asylum seekers from one country to another. On 14 June 2022, the European Court of Human Rights decided to grant an urgent interim measure decision preventing removal until such time as the English courts had issued a final decision.
Today, there are far more refugees than ever before. Refugees are effectively being treated as commodities to be traded and exported abroad. The prevalent claims which portray refugees and asylum seekers as cultural identity threats as well as security threats fuel cycles of fear among many societies.
In the United Kingdom, the situation is further aggravated by attempts on behalf of the British Government at targeting lawyers for defending the rights of asylum seekers. Such dangerous remarks have no place in a system governed by the rule of law, and the increasingly hostile rhetoric is putting members of the legal profession at risk of attack as well as undermining the legal system.
An international solution indispensable in order to rectify this problem, which is an international problem that involves every State.
Today, Guernica 37 commemorates and honours refugees around the globe.