UN warns global violence threatens int’l system

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SHAFAQNA - A spreading global violence threatens the very foundations of the international system, said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres on Saturday.

Guterres called the global state of affairs a “moment of truth,” urging world powers to act.

“Around the world, almost 60 million have been displaced by conflict and persecution, and nearly 20 million of them are refugees, and more than half are children,” he said in a statement issued on the occasion of the annual World Refugee Day on June 20.

“Their numbers are growing and accelerating, every single day, on every continent,” said Guterres, recalling that in 2014, an average of 42,500 people became refugees, asylum-seekers or internally displaced persons “every single day”.

The UNHCR chief accused some of the countries — with the resources to help the refugees — of closing down their gates.

He said that borders were closing, pushbacks were increasing, and hostility was rising.

“Humanitarian organizations like mine run on shoestring budgets, unable to meet the spiraling needs of such a massive population of victims.”

Guterres blamed global powers for becoming either “passive observers or distant players” in the conflicts that forced many innocent civilians from their homes.

“We have reached a moment of truth. World stability is falling apart leaving a wake of displacement on an unprecedented scale,” he said.

In a “world at war” where power relations were unclear, “It is now urgent for all those with leverage over the parties to these conflicts to put aside their differences and come together to create the conditions for ending the bloodshed,” Guterres said.

He called on wealthier countries to decide on whether to shoulder the refugees’ fair share, at home and abroad, or to hide behind walls as a “growing anarchy” spread across the world.

“For me, the choice is clear: either allow the cancer of forced displacement to spread untreated, or manage the crisis together and we have the solutions and the expertise.”

“It won’t be easy or cheap, but it will be worth it. History has shown that doing the right thing for victims of war and persecution engenders goodwill and prosperity for generations. And it fosters stability in the long run,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zeynep Iclal Incioglu, a Turkish official with the UNHCR, said the registered refugee numbers in Turkey has reached 1,761,486 as of May, according to official data from Ankara.

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the ongoing conflict in Syria, as well as crises in Iraq, Ukraine, South Sudan, Central African Republic, north-eastern Nigeria and parts of Pakistan, led to a “staggering” growth and acceleration of global forced displacement.

“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again.”

“On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere,” said Ban.

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