Category Archives: Worl Refugee Day

2018 World Refugee Day commemorated in Cameroon

The 2018 commemoration of the World Refugee Day in Cameroon took place at a time when the dire crisis in the Central African Republic continues to trigger massive forced displacement, increasing pressure on resources and living conditions in Eastern region of Cameroon. According to OCHA, CAR remains the country with the highest humanitarian needs per capita, with 50 per cent of the population having to rely on humanitarian assistance to survive, while 25 per cent is displaced either internally or in a neighbouring country.

Northern Nigeria’s conflict with Boko Haram spilled over to the Lake Chad Basin region, where Nigerian refugees are hosted since 2014, causing large scale forced displacement and an unprecedented humanitarian emergency in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The event in Yaounde took place in 2 phases:

  1. Official ceremony

A Commemorative event for the 2018 World Refugee Day organized by the UNHCR in collaboration with the Ministry of External Relations, (MINREX) took place at the Refugees Community Centre in Yaounde on Wednesday 20 June 2018.

The President of the “Collectif de Yaounde” expressed her gratitude to the Cameroon government for the legendary hospitality and support given to Refugees, while UNHCR was also appreciated for the strong and sustained assistance they continue to give them.

The Secretary at the Permanent Technique Secretariat for Refugees representing the Minister of External Relations, outlined measures taken by Government to tackle refugees’ request, emphasizing that Refugees are actors of development, and promised more assistance to refugees. Suffice to add that Cameroon is the 13th refugee receiving country in the world and 7th in Africa

Mrs. Roseline Okoro, UNHCR; deputy Resident Representative read the message of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee at the ceremony, in which increased solidarity to Refugees was promised.

These speeches were interspersed by folkloric dances exhibited by the different Refugee communities such as Rwanda, Chad, etc.

 

  1. Panel discussion on the: “Rights and duties of Refugees in Cameroun”

Panelists included students from the Institute of International Relations of Cameroon-IRIC, Secretary of the permanent Technique Secretariat for Refugees at MINREX and UNHCR.

Remy; student of IRIC explained the genesis and the context on the World Refugee Day, relating it to the 1959 Geneva conference.

Miss Ngah Gaëlle, equally of IRIC stressed the Right of Refugees in Cameroon, as spelt out in the Geneva Convention. She thus stated that refugees in Cameroon have all the rights, as human beings, to include; housing, traffic, social assistance, freedom of religion, etc.M. Keppi Eric harped on the duties of Refugees in Cameroon, reminding them that all refugees in Cameroon must obey the laws of the country as highlighted in article 12 of the 2005 law governing the rights and duties of refugees in Cameroon.

UNIC Yaoundé prepared information kits comprised of the UNSG message, UNGA A/RES/55/76 12 February 2001 which proclaimed 20 June as World Refugee Day, background documents on the genesis of the day and various distinctive definitions on terms such as refugees, Asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, Stateless Persons, and returnees. This was distributed to the over 150 participants at the event.

UN Secretary-General’s message on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2016

Forced displacement has reached unprecedented levels, with more than 65 million people uprooted from their homes globally. New and recurring conflicts, and ever-more disturbing forms of violence and persecution, are driving people to flee in search of safety within their own countries, or to cross international borders as asylum seekers or refugees. Others are living in long-term exile, as solutions to protracted conflicts remain elusive. At the end of 2015, there were 21.3 million refugees, 3.2 million people in the process of seeking asylum, and 40.8 million people internally displaced within their own countries.

World Refugee Day is a moment for taking stock of the devastating impact of war and persecution on the lives of those forced to flee, and honouring their courage and resilience. It is also a moment for paying tribute to the communities and States that receive and host them, often in remote border regions affected by poverty, instability and underdevelopment, and beyond the gaze of international attention. Nine out of ten refugees are today living in poor and middle income countries close to situations of conflict.

Last year, more than 1 million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe across the Mediterranean, in unseaworthy dinghies and flimsy boats. Thousands did not make it — tragic testimony to our collective failure to properly address their plight. Meanwhile, divisive political rhetoric on asylum and migration issues, rising xenophobia, and restrictions on access to asylum have become increasingly visible in certain regions, and the spirit of shared responsibility has been replaced by a hate-filled narrative of intolerance. We see a worrisome increase in the use of detention and in the construction of fences and other barriers.

With anti-refugee rhetoric so loud, it is sometimes difficult to hear the voices of welcome. But these do exist, all around the world. In the past year, in many countries and regions, we have witnessed an extraordinary outpouring of compassion and solidarity, as ordinary people and communities have opened their homes and their hearts to refugees, and States have welcomed new arrivals even while already hosting large numbers of refugees.

There is an urgent need to build on and amplify these positive examples. Our responses to refugees must be grounded in our shared values of responsibility sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights and in international refugee law, including the principle of non-refoulement. On 19 September, the UN High-Level Plenary of the General Assembly on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants will offer a historic opportunity to agree a global compact, with a commitment towards collective action and greater shared responsibility for refugees at its core.

We must stand together with the millions of men, women and children who flee their homes each year, to ensure that their rights and dignity are protected wherever they are, and that solidarity and compassion are at the heart of our collective response.