UN High Commissioner for Refugees Current Affairs - 2019

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India contributes US$ 5 million to UNRWA in support of Palestine refugees

India has contributed US $5 million to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The contribution was provided in support of UNRWA’s core programmes and services, including education, health care, and relief and social services.

About UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)

It is relief and human development agency of UN which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees, and their descendants. It is only UN agency dedicated to help refugees from specific region or conflict. It is separate from UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Founded: It was established December 1949 following 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict by UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 302 (IV).

Mandate: Its mandate is to contribute to welfare and human development of Palestine refugees, who had fled or were expelled from their homes during 1948 Palestine war as well during and following 1967 Six Day war.

Services: It originally offered services intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief, but now it provides services like education, health care, and social services to population it supports. It also allows refugee status to be inherited by descendants. Currently, it serves about 5.3 million refugees scattered around Middle East.

Areas of Operation: It provides aid in 5 areas of operation viz. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Whereas, UNHCR provides aid for Palestinian refugees outside these five areas.

Funded: It is funded by voluntary contributions from member states of UN. It also receives some funding from regular budget of UN (mostly used for international staffing costs). India has increased its annual financial contribution to UNRWA from US $1.25 million in 2016 to US$ 5 million in 2018 and 2019.

20 June: World Refugee Day observed

The World Refugee Day is observed across the world on 20 June every year. The theme for World Refugee Day 2019 was: Step with Refugees – Take a Step on World Refugee Day.

About World Refugee Day

Objective: The day is overserved annually to celebrate stories and contributions of refugees.

Background: On 4 December 2000, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in resolution 55/76 proclaimed to celebrate 20 June as World Refugee Day, starting from 2001. In this resolution, UNGA noted that 2001 marked 50th anniversary of 1951 Convention relating to Status of Refugees. It is observed to commemorate the day to honor all refugees, raise awareness and solicit support.

Observance: Individuals and community groups are encouraged to mark the World Refugee day by attending local World Refugee Day event, watching and sharing World Refugee Day videos and also by raising awareness for refugees on social media.

UNHCR Study on Refugees

As per the latest annual study released by United Nation’s office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCS) nearly 70.8 million men, women and children were forcibly displaced at the end of 2018. This is highest number of displaced individuals in organization’s 70-year history.

The study cited that violence, wars and persecution is the reason behind driving record numbers of people from their homes worldwide.

Almost 66% of those who are uprooted from their homes are internally displaced persons who have not left their homelands. Nearly 80% of these refugees live in countries neighbouring their country of origin.

Study states that on an average, 1 person is forcibly displaced every 2 seconds as a result of conflict/persecution and refugees are among the world’s most vulnerable people.

Who is a Refugee?

As per United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention– A refugee is a person who fled his/her home and country owing to a well-founded fear of persecution either because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or due to political opinion.