Time to do away with "barriers, alienation and despair": UNHCR chief

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After three days on the road, South Sudanese refugees arrive at the newly constructed Gure Shembola Camp in Ethiopia. Photo: UNHCR/Diana Diaz

It's time to change the current trajectory which has led to a climate of "fear and exclusion" towards refugees in many countries.

That's the message from UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, on World Refugee Day.

As the day is marked on 20 June, more than 65 million people have been forced to flee war persecution and violence.

Matthew Wells has more.

The UNHCR chief said it was a day to highlight the "resilience and courage" of refugees everywhere, but also a moment to recognize the people across the world who were offering them safe haven.

Mr Grandi said a culture of uncertainty," economic instability, political upheaval and violence" in many parts of the world had hardened hearts against refugees, and that needed to change.

"Fear and exclusion will not lead us to a better place. They can only lead to barriers, alienation and despair. It's time to change this trajectory and for the better."

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, who held the top job at UNHCR himself for a decade, also released a video message, saying refugees needed all of our support, in their time of greatest need.

Mr Guterres said that it was inspiring to see countries with the least, often doing the most for refugees.

"On World Refugee Day, we reflect on the courage of those who have fled, and the compassion of those who welcome them. Let us resolve to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime and let us work to give everyone the chance to build a better future, together."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'11"

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