International Day of Peace, 21 September

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The International Day of Peace, or World Peace day as it is often referred to, is observed each year on 21 September. On this day each year we, all of us— individuals, communities and nations— are asked to give attention to peace that it might become our practice.

This year’s theme is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All”. This year’s focus is on engaging and mobilizing people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants.

“We are a world in pieces.  We need to be a world at peace,” said the UN Secretary- General, António Guterres, in his address yesterday, 19 September, to the General Assembly.

The global refugee statistics are staggering:

65.3 million people are currently displaced worldwide, of whom 21.3 million are refugeees and 10 million are stateless people. 54 % of refugees world wide come from three countries: Somalia (1.1 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Syria (4.9 million). 11,766 refugees were resettled or recognised in Australia 2015 (latest available figures). 0.48 % of world’s refugees were protected by Australia in 2015.

The Rohingya have lived for centuries in Myanmar. In recent weeks the global community has become particularly aware of their situation: rejected in their home country of Myanmar, unwanted by their neighbours in Bangladesh where an estimated 400,000 have sought refuge since 25 August 2017.

The Secretary-General continued “And I strongly believe that, together, we can build peace.  We can restore trust and create a better world for all.”

As we learn more about the experiences of the Rohingya and of all the peoples who collectively make up the 65.3 million displaced in our world, may our compassion move us to take whatever actions we each can to ensure the dignity, safety and respect of all peoples, recognising the humanity we hold in common.

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