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World Refugee Day 2009

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On June 20th, the international community marks the 9th annual World Refugee Day, acknowledging the suffering of the millions of people driven from their homes. The commitment by the United States to protect and aid refugees is a deep and abiding one, part of the nation’s history and at the core of its values.

The United Nations, which established the event in 2000, set this year's theme on "real people, real needs". World Refugee Day 2009 draws particular attention to the unmet needs of some 42 million persons who are uprooted by conflict, persecution, natural disaster and food insecurity, and thereby forcibly displaced worldwide, awaiting a solution. It is intended to remind us all that refugees are not faceless statistics, but real individuals with dignity, rights and needs.

"On this World Refugee Day," said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, "let us remember that the millions of people cared for by the UN refugee agency and our partners are among the most vulnerable on Earth. Each and every one of them has a very human story to tell. Refugees are not faceless statistics – they are real people just like you and me who through no fault of their own have lost everything."

The U.S. is proud to be the leading donor of refugee assistance, providing more than a billion dollars a year to support multilateral efforts to help alleviate the suffering of not only refugees, but also internally displaced people and other victims of conflict.

Each year the U.S. resettles more refugees than any other country. Once in the country, many have made great contributions with their talent, hard work and creativity. On World Refugee Day, we join UNHCR in saluting them for their resilience and pledge to continue the U.S. government’s leadership in refugee assistance and resettlement.