Plight of many cited on World Refugee Day

June 20, 2009 at 12:10 PM

UNITED NATIONS, June 20 (UPI) -- With more support, the United Nations could ease the hardship of the 42 million refugees worldwide, U.N. officials said Saturday on World Refugee Day.

"But without that support, we are forced daily to make heart-breaking decisions that directly affect the lives and well-being of the millions of uprooted families we are charged with protecting," said Antonio Guterres, the U.N. commissioner for refugees.

Refugees forced to flee violence, conflict and persecution have lost their jobs, homes, loved ones, friends, communities and countries, Guterres said in a release. Many lack basic humanitarian needs, such as shelter, clean water sanitation and food. In too many refugee camps, single women and girls are vulnerable to exploitation and attack, he said.

Actress Angelina Jolie, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, urged the world not to see refugees as a burden.

"They are the survivors," Jolie said. "And they can bring those qualities to the service of their communities and the countries that shelter them."

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