New York, June 21: While opening of the exhibition to honour World Refugee Day in New York on Monday, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said that more countries must open doors wider and provide safe pathways for those fleeing war and poverty.
He pointed out that this year’s observance of World refugee day finds more than 65 million people or roughly 1 in every 113 members of the human family uprooted from their homes. This exhibition captures their plight.
Moon further said “you will see heartbreaking images of children and families under enormous duress. But, you will also see their essential dignity shining through. I thank the photographers, videographers, shared studios, UNHCR and all others who have made this exhibition possible”.
Ban further said, As it happens, my own mind is filled with vivid images from my visit two days ago to one of the epicenters of the challenge — the town of Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesvos. The coast of Turkey seemed just a stone’s throw away. The waters looked calm and inviting.
I spoke with Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and others at the Kara Tepe Open Hospitality Centre and sensed their gratitude for the solidarity of the local communities despite the difficulties. But, I also saw, there and at the Moria hotspot, simmering frustration.
The world has a political, moral and legal obligation to do more to bring that brighter day closer. If tiny Lesvos can do so much, surely others must do far more. This responsibility must be shared across Europe and across the world. More countries need to resettle more people. We need to crack down on smuggling, fight xenophobia and provide safe, legal and regular pathways. And we need to better integrate refugees into society while addressing the root causes of forced displacement.
I know the situation is complex. At the same time, in many ways, it is also very simple. We need to help fellow human beings caught up in horrendous circumstances they had no role in creating and have no power to change. We must uphold our common humanity. It is there in all of us, waiting to be expressed. Now is the time.