Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on World Refugee Day

Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
New York, NY
June 20, 2014


From Syria to Burma to central Africa, more than 50 million people have been driven from their homes, and forced to seek refuge from violent conflict, political, religious or ethnic persecution and natural disasters.

The trends are alarming. Today’s new report from the UN High Commission for Refugees tells us that, since 2011, Syria has gone from being the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country to being its second largest refugee-producing country. In Iraq last week, more than 300,000 people fled from ISIL violence in Mosul.

And earlier this week, we heard of the appalling suffering and unacceptable conditions in internally displaced camps in Burma. While we will continue to provide life-saving aid, it is the job of the Burmese Government to address the crisis immediately and to allow unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies to all people in need of assistance.

Every person fleeing their home deserves compassion and help, and to live with dignity.

The spirit of World Refugee Day demands that we redouble our efforts to prevent the conflicts and circumstances that force families to flee, and create the conditions that get them safely back home.

Background on Refugee Issues:

  • There are currently more than 16.7 refugees around the world, with over 50 million total displaced persons, according to UNHCR.
  • This total number of displaced has topped 50 million for the first time since World War II, up more than 6 million from last year.
  • The massive increase was driven to a large extent by the war in Syria, where the United States has provided more than $2 billion to provide safety, food, shelter, and medical treatment to over 4.7 million inside Syria, to more than 2.8 million refugees in the region and to communities in neighboring countries hosting refugees.
  • As the world’s leading provider of humanitarian aid, providing some $5 billion in 2013, the United States also resettles more refugees than all other countries combined. Nearly 70,000 refugees from 65 nations found a new home in the United States last year.
  • Those efforts must be combined with those of the global community to provide aid and protection to the world’s most vulnerable people, and address the conflicts and circumstances that drive people from their homes in the first place.


PRN: 2014/141