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WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement marking World Refugee Day, which is today, June 20th:
"Since 2001, people across the globe have come together on June 20th to show their support for the millions of refugees throughout the world who have fled their homes for fear of persecution, imprisonment or even murder. On this sixth anniversary of World Refugee Day, we make a solemn pledge to these courageous and resilient people that their plight has not gone unnoticed and they do not stand alone.
"In April, I led a Congressional Delegation to Sudan and saw, first-hand, the effects of one of the worst refugee crises facing our world today. In Darfur, I saw mothers and fathers struggling to provide for their children's most basic needs - necessities we often take for granted, such as food, water, clothing and shelter. I saw people fighting to overcome years of physical and mental abuse so severe that they would rather wander the desert than remain in the torturous environment their homeland had become. And I saw things that made me wonder how the world could stand silent while suffering of this magnitude continued.
"With more than 686,000 refugees, Sudan is now ranked as the third largest refugee crisis in the world, according to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, falling behind Iraq, where sectarian violence has created 1.5 million refugees (1.2 million fled the country in 2006 alone), and Afghanistan with 2.1 million. And it comes as no surprise that Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan now also rank first, second and eighth, respectively, on the Foreign Policy Index on Failed States, which was released on Tuesday.
"When people are forced to flee from their homes, they leave behind more than just material possessions - they often must trade their dignity, self-respect and hopes for the future for their very survival. And it is not just the refugees themselves that suffer. The instability and mortal dangers that create refugee crises threaten the safety and security of entire regions, if not the entire world.
"On this World Refugee Day, I am proud to join with the defenders of human rights who are calling on each of us to not only acknowledge the tragedies suffered by refugees across the globe, but who are also challenging us to step up and do something about it."