Biden’s top diplomat Antony Blinken says with 82 million forcibly displaced people in the world, including more than 26 million refugees, countries must act now

United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Sunday that with 82 million forcibly displaced people around the world, including more than 26 million refugees, all countries must act and help.

“We mark today with news that the immense global forced displacement crisis has reached a disturbing new high, affecting more than 82 million people who are forcibly displaced, including more than 26 million refugees. These figures and the UN Refugee Agency’s theme for this year’s World Refugee Day, “Together we heal, learn, and shine,” are calls to action for all countries to ensure refugees have access to protection, life-saving care, and opportunities to learn so they can thrive in their host communities,” Blinken said on World Refugee Day on Sunday.

He said the United States is committed “to alleviating the suffering of refugees globally through our leadership in humanitarian assistance and diplomacy.”

Anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiments gained a lot of ground in the United States in the last four years when President Donald J. Trump was president.

Trump, whose family originally came from Germany, and his wife Melania, from Slovenia, rallied Republicans and Republican supporters against immigrants even though many of them were immigrants themselves.

He usually described immigrants as ‘criminals’ and ‘rapists’, and Democratic supporters as ‘looters’.

But most immigrants in the United States are good people who abide by the law, pay taxes and work harder than most people. They also do jobs many others are not interested in doing, and often receive lower wages than American citizens.

President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who defeated Trump last November, said in a statement on Sunday that protecting refugees is part of America’s DNA.

“Protecting refugees is part of our DNA. Our nation was founded by those fleeing religious persecution. When we take action to help refugees around the world, we honor our past and live up to our highest values. We show our greatest strength as a nation,” President Biden said in a statement. “That’s why I revised the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year, and plan to raise it to 125,000 next year.”

The President added that “at a time when the number of refugees and other displaced persons has reached an alarming and historic high—more than 82 million worldwide—the United States has a moral obligation to ensure that refugees have access to life-saving care, opportunities to pursue an education, and livelihoods that allow them to live with dignity and hope for the future.”

Read Blinken’s full statement on World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day presents an opportunity to recognize the courage and resilience of the millions of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes, the generosity of the communities that host them, and the united global response of humanitarian partners that help them. We mark today with news that the immense global forced displacement crisis has reached a disturbing new high, affecting more than 82 million people who are forcibly displaced, including more than 26 million refugees.  These figures and the UN Refugee Agency’s theme for this year’s World Refugee Day, “Together we heal, learn, and shine,” are calls to action for all countries to ensure refugees have access to protection, life-saving care, and opportunities to learn so they can thrive in their host communities.

The United States reaffirms our commitment to alleviating the suffering of refugees globally through our leadership in humanitarian assistance and diplomacy.  International cooperation is essential, and we recommit to multilateral engagement to meet immediate humanitarian needs and seek durable solutions for refugees to live with hope and dignity.  No single country can respond to this global crisis alone, and no country is untouched by the impacts of forced displacement.  We are in this together.

The United States is once again taking up the mantle of leadership on refugee resettlement, including through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which has welcomed more than 3.1 million refugees since 1980.  We have already taken the critical steps of raising the annual refugee admissions target to 62,500 for Fiscal Year 2021 and restoring regional allocations for resettlement to ensure that access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is based on refugees’ vulnerability, responds to the emergency need for resettlement across all regions of the world, and reflects the American tradition of welcoming refugees.  The Biden-Harris Administration is putting America’s highest values at the center of our foreign policy and offering reassurance to persecuted people for whom permanent resettlement is needed.

Refugee resettlement is one of several ways that the United States supports forcibly displaced people around the world.  As the world’s largest single donor of humanitarian assistance, the United States plays a crucial role in promoting and fostering the international response to displacement crises.  In Fiscal Year 2020, we provided more than $10.5 billion in humanitarian aid globally, including assistance for refugees.  In addition to providing life-saving services, our assistance supports the tireless work of humanitarian partner organizations to provide health care as well as livelihood and educational opportunities so that people fleeing persecution can heal, learn, and shine even in the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Everyone deserves these opportunities, and we will continue to call on other countries to help us sustain humanitarian responses and find lasting solutions globally.

The United States will maintain our diplomatic efforts to promote access to international protection for people in vulnerable situations regardless of their location.  We will be a reliable partner to all parties seeking to end conflicts or address other drivers of forced displacement and instability in the interest of creating the conditions for people to prosper instead of fleeing for their lives.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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