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UNIS/SGSM/200
16 June 2010

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

"Troubling Trend: Fewer Refugees Can Return Home"

Message on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2010

VIENNA, 20 June (UN Information Service) - 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.

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 and southern Sudan.

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.

For many refugees today, rapid urbanization means that home is not a crowded camp run by an international humanitarian organization, but a makeshift shelter in a shantytown, outside a city in the developing world.

As these cities continue to experience spectacular growth, refugees are among their most vulnerable residents. They must struggle for the most basic services: sanitation, health and education. The impact of the global financial and economic crisis only increases the threat of marginalization and destitution.

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.

On World Refugee Day, let us reaffirm the importance of solidarity and burden-sharing by the international community. Refugees have been deprived of their homes, but they must not be deprived of their futures.

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