Up to 35% of refugees are torture victims, highlights the IRCT on World Refugee Day20-06-2011
Exactly 60 years after the signing of the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, today there are more than 27.5 million internally displaced persons and nearly 15.5 million refugees, says the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
With escalating conflicts throughout the world, their numbers are only expected to increase.
“As the humanitarian crisis in Libya worsens and its impact on neighbouring countries increases, the EU’s response to the developments in the region and in particular the needs of refugees fleeing the region so far are proving inadequate,” it says in a joint letter from nongovernmental organisations, including the IRCT, to H. Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.
Because torture is a covert practice and its victims are often unable to report the crime, no comprehensive statistics exist on the extent to which refugees and other displaced persons have experienced torture. However, health professionals and researchers commonly estimate that up to 35 percent of asylum seekers and refugees worldwide have been subjected to torture. These figures demonstrate that this is not a marginal problem of a marginal community, but a substantial problem that must be duly addressed.
The majority of our member centres and programmes deal with tortured and war affected refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum-seekers. We work to share the message of the UNHCR and other civil society partners on this 20th of June, World Refugee Day, that “One Refugee Without Hope is too Many.”
UNHCR estimates that 80 percent of the world’s refugee populations are hosted by developing countries “at a time of rising anti-refugee sentiment in many industrialised ones.” Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Chad, and Syria host the most refugees - countries that cannot cope with these huge numbers and wide variety of needs.
And more than ever, refugees are being detained in damaging conditions around the world.
“As immigrant detention grows globally, vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, including torture victims, are also being held in poor conditions and often without an end in sight,” says Brita Syndoff, Secretary-General of the IRCT.
The current statistics on refugees is dismal. When the UN Refugee Agency began 60 years ago, the programme handled the cases of approximately 2 million refugees, predominantly Europeans exiled by World War II. Today, there are more than 43 million displaced people, dominated by the ever-growing swell of IDPs – and even one is too many.
For more information:
Please see a copy of the joint letter from nongovernmental organisations, including the IRCT, to President Rompuy of the European Council.