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Regional Director’s statement on the occasion of World Refugee Day 2016

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20 June 2016 – As conflict rages through the Eastern Mediterranean Region, thousands of people flee their homes every day in search of safety. Faced with violence, blocked roads and sometimes limited resources, their journey is never easy.

Crossing borders in search of a safer environment, many refugees still struggle to lead normal lives, competing with some of the poorest host communities for jobs, education, shelter, and health care. 

Year by year, the numbers of refugees in our Region continue to grow, outpacing the capacity of host countries to support them. While many refugees stay and attempt to integrate themselves into their new environments, others choose to continue their journey, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Too often, we hear the tragic news of the many men, women and children dying at sea as they make the journey by boat to Europe. No human being should ever die in their quest for a better life. 

Refugees who have fled conflict and violence have already seen and suffered enough. As populations continue to cross borders, governments, the international community, and humanitarian partners need to come together to find solutions that will allow refugees, and all displaced populations, to meet their basic needs. It is our collective duty to make sure that they are protected and provided with the aid they need to continue their lives with mental and physical well-being, dignity and hope. 

Dr Ala Alwan
WHO Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region

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