Comment by the Information and Press Department on World Refugee Day
The international community is marking World Refugee Day on June 20. In 2001, the UN General Assembly established this day in connection with the 50th anniversary of adopting the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1951. The Russian Federation joined the convention in 1992 and regards it as a fundamental international document for guidelines on refugee protection issues.
The issue of refugees and displaced persons is becoming more critical. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of forcibly displaced persons exceeds 65.3 million worldwide, including 21.3 million refugees, 40.8 million internally displaced persons and 3.2 million asylum seekers. The scale of this process compares with global migration waves after World War II.
Unfortunately, wars and armed domestic conflicts also continue in the 21st century, forcing millions of people to leave their homes in an attempt to uphold their right to life and a worthy existence. The current migration situation in Europe due to the refugees from the Middle Eastern and North African countries is a graphic example.
Russia is confident that migration issues can be resolved by achieving a political settlement in countries from which migrants emanate and by assisting them with socioeconomic development, state building and the fight against terrorism.
Russia believes that various approaches towards overcoming migration problems, including issues of guaranteeing and protecting the rights of refugees, cannot run counter to the basic principles of humanity, neutrality, unbiased attitudes and independence. Nor should they violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states or be implemented without the consent of those countries where they are being realised.
Russia makes a substantial contribution to strengthening international refugee protection programmes and resolving migration issues. This is manifested in Russia’s large-scale humanitarian activities in many countries and regions, political efforts to prevent and overcome crises and in the full support for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the main specialised international humanitarian agency.
The Russian Federation considers the work of this office to be highly important in the context of providing humanitarian relief aid and in the broader context of maintaining stability in regions with a complicated sociopolitical situation. Under a Russian Government decision, Russia has been donating $2 million annually to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees since 2005, and this sum is used to finance programmes for assisting refugees, temporarily displaced persons and stateless persons.
Since April 1, 2014, the Russian Federation has received over one million Ukrainians who have been forced to flee from a domestic armed conflict in Ukraine. About 450,000 of them have requested asylum or temporary shelter. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has repeatedly confirmed that the living conditions of Ukrainian refugees in Russia are in no way inferior to international standards, and that they often surpass these standards.
In February 2017, the newly elected UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi visited Moscow for the first time and met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and also the heads of other Russian ministries. The parties discussed further cooperation between Russia and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in great detail.