I’m pleased to join the rest of the globe to commemorate this year’s World Refugee Day.

Nearly 80 million women, children, and men around the world have been forced from their homes as refugees or internally displaced people. Even more shocking: Ten Million of these people fled in the past year alone. It is more than unfortunate particularly this period where everywhere in the world people are facing the challenging situation of COVID-19 in addition to other existing issues but continue to be refugees and displaced.

On World Refugee Day, we pledge through the voice of our UN Secretary General, António Guterres, to do everything within our capacity and resources to advocate to end the conflict and persecution that drive these appalling numbers.

Today, we also recognize the generosity and humanity of host communities and countries that often struggle with their own economic and security concerns. We owe these countries our thanks, our support and our investment.

I would particularly like to commend the Humanitarian Commitment of the Government of Rwanda who has been providing asylum to more than 150,000 refugees for the last two decades and who supported in September 2019 the creation of an Emergency Transit mechanism in Rwanda which contributes to save the lives of hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers stranded in Libya. It is our common responsibility to work together to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime, and to support the implementation of the pledges made at the Global Refugee Forum held in Geneva in December 2019, so that refugees and host communities receive the support they need.

Since the adoption of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework in February 2018, the Rwandan authorities and UNHCR envision a comprehensive solutions approach for refugees in the country and takes active steps for their Socio Economic integration in Rwanda. Rwanda is a pioneer country that reiterated its genuine commitment to the refugee cause by presenting progressive pledges at the Global Refugee Forum in the thematic areas of Education, Jobs and Livelihoods, Energy & Infrastructure, Protection & Solutions and Health.  

As the UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda, I call upon the operational, technical and financial support of UN agencies, NGO partners, development actors, members of the Diplomatic community and private sector entities to help the Government of Rwanda deliver on and go beyond these pledges.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional threat to refugees and displaced people, who are among the most vulnerable. In Rwanda the Government continues to ensure the lives of refugees are protected, and included in the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan supported by UN and other partners.

I take this opportunity to salute the Government of Rwanda their commitment to include refugees, Leaving No One Behind, in all prevention and response efforts.

In Rwanda, refugees and displaced people are also prominent among those who are stepping up to make a difference on the frontlines of the response as community workers supporting COVID19 prevention and response measures, as soap and mask makers promoting the improvement of Hygiene practices to avoid the spread of the pandemic, as farmers and entrepreneurs joining efforts with Rwandan people to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic for refugees and host communities.

On World Refugee Day, we thank refugees for their resourcefulness and determination to rebuild their own lives, and to improve the lives of those around them.

Today and every day, we stand in unity and solidarity with refugees and recognize our fundamental obligation to shelter those fleeing war and persecution.

We are together! Turi Kumwe!


Written by
Eugene Sibomane
Communication Focal Point
Eugene Sibomane
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees