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June 20, 2016

World Refugee Day

During a recent visit to a series of refugee camps from Greece to Croatia, there were few images that evoked more meaning than the three simple words scrawled on the side of a tent in the Idomeni Refugee Camp — “WE ARE HUMAN”.

As borders close, walls are proposed, and armies are deployed, it’s all too easy to forget these men, women and children represent our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. Like me, like you. They are human.

Today, as we pause to remember World Refugee Day, more than 60 million people are displaced and on the move globally, more than at any time in human history. Of course this massive movement of people is creating challenges and is viewed as a threat by some. Unfortunately, the rhetoric can get all too sharp and public policy solutions far too extreme. When this results, not only do we threaten individuals and families when they are at their most vulnerable, we also all lose a bit of our humanity.

My friend, Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, has been asking the following question after his experience during the Rwandan genocide,  “Are all humans human? Or are some more human than others?”.

On this World Refugee Day, we have the opportunity before us to respond and act in ways that affirm the essential humanity of all – especially those that are displaced and seeking safety and security.

Indeed, we all are human.

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