As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, reaffirmed UNHCR’s anti-racist stance and the agency’s commitment to identifying and opposing all racial discrimination.Our UK for UNHCR team is fully committed to this vision – the very essence of our work is to protect people fleeing for their lives simply because of who they are. As the world watches Ukraine in horror, we have witnessed incredible solidarity from you, our UK supporters, and from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries, where citizens and communities are stepping forward in huge numbers to help refugees. When war forces families to flee their country, the vast majority will be hosted in neighbouring countries, waiting to return home when safe. We see this in Lebanon, hosting over one million Syrian refugees and remodelling its school timetables to accommodate refugee children.
We see this in Colombia, granting 1.7 million displaced Venezuelans with 10-year protection status, enabling them to stay and access local services.We see this in Pakistan, giving sanctuary to 1.5 million Afghan refugees and providing them with smart cards to improve access to health, education and banking. We see this in Uganda, sheltering 1.5 million refugees from DRC and South Sudan, who are welcomed to live side by side with their host communities rather than in camps.
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As the Ukraine crisis deepens, the enormous wave of compassion and solidarity across Europe and globally has moved us all.UK for UNHCR continues to amplify this advocacy through our own channels – keep informed through our social media. We must not let racism diminish the incredible generosity and solidarity we have seen for the women, men and children forced from their homes Ukraine – everyone fleeing conflict and persecution deserves protection. It is a stark reminder, however, that there is much work to be done as we strive to eliminate racial discrimination around the world. Let’s all continue to speak out and raise our voices against discrimination, wherever we find it. Thank you for standing against racism.But this heartwarming humanity has also been marred by ugly racism in some quarters – which must be called out. Some people fleeing the same horrific violence in Ukraine – such as Syrian and Afghan refugees, and international students – have not received the same treatment as Ukrainian refugees. They reported disturbing incidents of discrimination, violence and racism. This is unacceptable and UNHCR is mobilising its resources and influence to make sure that all people are protected equally.
Read the High Commissioner’s statement here.