UN marks World Refugee Day by urging care for those unable to return home

09:41, June 21, 2010      

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Children play at a refugee camp in the Somali capital Mogadishu June 20, 2010. Almost 1.5 million Somalis remain displaced as a result of the almost twenty years of civil conflict in their country. The United Nations is marking the World Refugee Day on Sunday with the theme of "Home" by reminding the world of the 15 million refugees who are unable to return to their homes. (Xinhua/Ismail Warsameh)

The United Nations is marking Sunday's World Refugee Day by reminding the world of the 15 million refugees who are unable to return to their homes.

"On this observance of World Refugee Day, we must note a troubling trend: the decline in the number of refugees who are able to go home," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to mark the day.

In 2005, more than a million people returned to their own country on a voluntary basis. Last year, only 250,000 did so -- the lowest number in two decades.

"The reasons for this include prolonged instability in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and southern Sudan," he said.

Ban said that the theme of this year's observance -- "Home" -- highlights the plight of the world's 15 million refugees, more than three-quarters of them in the developing world, who have been uprooted from their homes by conflict or persecution.

"We in the humanitarian community must adapt our policies to this changing profile of need. This means working closely with host governments to deliver services, and intensifying our efforts to resolve conflicts so that refugees can return home," he said.

In December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to decide that from 2001, June 20 would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.

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