War remains the main cause of forced migration, says Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), with armed conflict, often within national borders, and human rights violations pushing ever increasing numbers of people to leave their homes. In a statement marking World Refugee Day today, JRS highlights the urgent needs of an estimated 50 million forcibly displaced people worldwide and calls on states to honour their commitment under the Geneva Convention to protect them. "The international community must protect and defend the rights of refugees, many of whom are vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers around the world," said JRS International director, Lluis Magrina SJ. A major cause for concern is the growing tendency of states to move away from traditional hospitality to asylum seekers and refugees. There is a danger that anti-illegal migration measures, in developed countries, prevent people who are fleeing persecution from having access to territory in which to claim asylum. Even long-term refugees are facing intensified animosity in host countries, and some are threatened by forced repatriation. JRS urges states to safeguard the fundamental right to asylum. "It is against human rights to repatriate any person without conditions of security and protection in their home country," stressed Fr Magrina. The JRS statement also emphasises the plight of around 25 million internally displaced people who are "particularly vulnerable" as there is no single agency mandated to support them. JRS notes that international support for refugees has declined (the UNHCR budgetary target for 2002 is $130 million less than the initial 2001 budget), a development which will "severely affect" the work of JRS and other organisations. "All refugees have the right to assistance and states have to pay for that," said Fr Magrina. Finally, JRS draws the world's attention especially to the situation of those refugees whose cause has moved out of the international spotlight and who lead forgotten lives. The statement is issued in the hope that the echo of their cause can be heard again. JRS is a Catholic non-governmental organisation with a mandate to accompany, serve and plead the cause of forcibly displaced people. It is at work in over 50 countries.
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