ISLAMABAD - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that an average one person was displaced in every two seconds in 2017 and 85 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries.

“Pakistan is the second largest refugee-hosting country. We hope that you will all join us today in standing with refugees,” said Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan said on the occasion of the World Refugee Day.

The UNHCR, the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and German Development Cooperation (GiZ) marked the World Refugee Day on Wednesday and expressed solidarity with some 68.5 million people who had been displaced across the world by the end of 2017.

According to UNHCR’s annual report, an average one person was displaced in every two seconds in 2017 – with developing countries most affected. 85 per cent of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries. According the UNHCR Refugees who have fled their countries to escape conflict and persecution accounted for 25.4 million of the 68.5 million. This is 2.9 million more than in 2016 – the biggest increase UNHCR has seen in a single year. People displaced inside their own country accounted for 40 million of the total, slightly fewer than the 40.3 million in 2016.

Leading global displacement during 2017 was the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the war in South Sudan and the flight into Bangladesh from Myanmar of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.

Afghan refugees living in south-west Asia remain one of the world’s most protracted refugee populations. Pakistan has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees over the last four decades. 

Federal SAFRON Minister, Roshan Khursheed Bharucha, Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Indrika Ratwatte, German Ambassador to Pakistan, Martin Kobler, government officials, representatives from diplomatic missions, UN agencies and refugees attended an event in Islamabad which included an exhibition of refugee-made clothes and crafts, as well as traditional music and dancing from Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is the second-largest refugee-hosting country. We hope that you will all join us today in standing with refugees,” said Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan.

Menikdiwela appreciated and acknowledged the people and government of Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees and called on the international community to support Afghan refugees and their host communities in Pakistan as well as providing development assistance in Afghanistan to support the sustainable reintegration of returnees.

Federal Minister for SAFRON Roshan Khursheed Bharucha said that the growing numbers of displacement globally and shifting humanitarian focus impacted Pakistan. Roshan Khursheed Bharucha reiterated the government of Pakistan’s commitment to the voluntary, gradual, safe and dignified return of Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan. “The government of Pakistan has taken several steps to protect Afghan refugees in Pakistan,” she added. 

The German Ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler said more than 68 million people have been displaced worldwide which is an all-time high. “This is a call for action for the international community.” “I thank Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees in the country since many decades and I thank UNHCR for the work it is doing for refugees in dignity,” he added.  

Tobias Becker, German Development Cooperation Country Director in Pakistan said: “Germany is committed to continue its support to Pakistan in managing one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world. GIZ on behalf of the German government has been implementing projects in Pakistan since 2009.”

UNHCR in Pakistan also signed a Statement of Cooperation with the fashion designer of FnkAsia, Huma Adnan. UNHCR Pakistan will collaborate with FnkAsia to arrange skills training for refugees and promote the products created by them. The aim is to create livelihood opportunities for refugees leading to a dignified life for them and their families. The Islamabad event was jointly hosted by UNHCR, the government of Pakistan and German Development Cooperation.