- Your welcome sends a strong message about action - and actions that every city can take, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs highlighted in her video message to ICORN for World Refugee Day. - Not only to protect those creative, brave voices who are expressing ideas, debate and sometimes criticism, but these same cities are also welcoming refugees and stateless people.
Closed borders and global economic recession reduce livelihood opportunities and erodes informal safety nets that many depend on to survive. People who are forced to flee from their homes are especially vulnerable.
The majority of people who have applied for a safe residency with ICORN have already fled their home countries. They are writers, artists, journalists, cartoonists, musicians - vital voices and often outspoken critics of governments and other repressive actors.
Border closures, movement restrictions and some governments’ increasingly repressive methods to control information, have further limited their options to find safety. Their ability to remain self-sufficient also suffers as work opportunities become scarce and savings are depleted.
Every action counts
Being an ICORN member is an expression of solidarity with everyone who is fighting for democratic values and human rights. At the heart of the ICORN programme, member cities offer not only a place of safety and refuge for writers and artists who have fought and fled repression and persecution; they offer a platform to continue the fight for freedom of expression and improved conditions for human rights in their home countries and beyond.
Video message to ICORN from Gillian Triggs, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, on World Refugee Day 2020.
- Your welcome sends a strong message about action - and actions that every city can take, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs highlighted in her video message to ICORN for World Refugee Day. “Not only to protect those creative, brave voices who are expressing ideas, debate and sometimes criticism, but these same cities are also welcoming refugees and stateless people.
The travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19 have affected ICORNs ability to relocate persecuted writers and artists to places of safety and stability. However, ICORN is in regular contact applicants, and with migration authorities, which continue to process applications for long term visa. ICORN keeps on matching applicants with open residencies together with its member cities, which remain flexible, and expect relocations to resume once travel restrictions are easing.
Pointing the way to a better future - Everyone can make a difference
As the world recovers and rebuilds from the COVID pandemic, the voices of writers and artists are needed more than ever to expose injustices and to point the way to a better future. Accordingly, cities and civil society institutions, also harshly affected by the Covid-19 measures, continue to defend freedom of expression by providing safe residencies where writers and artists can continue their work without fear of persecution.
Everyone, regardless of their racial, social or economic status, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Everyone must have access to basic human rights. Together, we must work to promote inclusion, respect and anti-discrimination.
Since 2010, ICORN has facilitated the placement of 240 writers and artists in 70 member cities. ICORN works in partnership with and complements the efforts of other organisations offering protection and assistance to people fleeing persecution and violence. Through its member cities, ICORN offers complementary pathways to protection for writers and artists who may otherwise have been unable to reach a place of safety.
This World Refugee Day, we must emphasize that everyone has a role to play in our global fight for a more just, fair and equal world. Everyone Can Make a Difference, Every Action Counts.