June 20, 2020 is World Refugee Day, which is marked worldwide. The People’s Democratic League (PDL) joins other voices to extend solidarity with African refugees, who were forced to flee their homes and abandon their property and livelihoods.
This day is worth celebrating with all the fanfares it deserves, but due to COVID-19 pandemic, the day has been strife off its rights to organize events to mark World Refugee Day. While a number of countries that are fighting COVID-19 pandemic are now exiting from the lockdown, the virus infection, however, continues to spread and causing considerable damages in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are also host to a disproportionately high number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The ravaged environment is further permeated by the rising climate change, whose impacts destroy lives and livelihoods, and rendering people homeless and displacing millions. This situation threatens to exacerbate poverty and push people to the limits of adaptation, suffering the consequences of loss and damage.
The situation of refugees in Africa is one in which millions of refugees and internally displaced persons are abandoned in a frustrated and hopeless condition, and having lost their meager income due to the lockdown. They live in overcrowded camps with no access to basic necessities, such as hygiene, food, drinking water and sanitation. Women and girls particularly, in those camps are exposed to high risk of gender-based violence, with very little support and access to basic services. Refugee children in those camps suffer from malnutrition and ill-health due to lack of access to food, welfare and education.
Every year on June 20, World Refugee Day raises awareness about the situation of forcibly displaced people, which include refugees, who have crossed a national border to flee war or disaster, and internally displaced people, asylum seekers, stateless persons and returnees.
With experienced during the Sierra Leonean civil war in the 1990s, the PDL notes that much more is needed to be done to at least give hope to refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa and other regions.
Equally worried is the fact that support for refuges and internally displaced persons has been halted on grounds of safety and closed borders to stop the spread of COVID-19, forgotten that these people will find it hard to survive deprivation and isolation.
On World Refugee Day 2020, we must all come to grasp the fact the protection of refugees and internally displaced people is the common, shared responsibility of the international community. On this, we call on all states to honour their obligations to protection of refugees and internally displaced persons.
In solidarity with African Refugees!
Samuel Musa Kalokoh
National Secretary for Administration
People’s Democratic League