On World Refugee Day, Montenegrin Prime Minister reiterates refugees can find hope away from home in this small Balkan country
20 June 2023
UNHCR Representative commended Montenegro’s commitment to its open-door policy since 1992.
16–22 June 2021
Every year, on 20 June the world celebrates the strength and resilience of refugees and other people forced to flee. This year on World Refugee Day, UNHCR called on communities and governments across the world to create solutions and ensure inclusion of forcibly displaced people.
In Montenegro, UNHCR and its partners commemorated the World Refugee Day through a series of events taking place between 16 – 22 June 2023, celebrating the many contributions refugees make when included in the host communities, while reaffirming the commitment of both Montenegro and the international community to continue supporting them.
UNHCR Montenegro marked on 20 June the World Refugee Day together with partners in an event that gathered, for the first time ever, the highest level of attendance for the operation. The Prime Minister Mr Dritan Abazovic, the Head of EU Delegation, H.E. Ms. Oana-Cristina Popa and the Ukrainian Ambassador, H.E. Oleg Herasymenko joined the UNHCR Representative, Mr. Jean Yves Bouchardy to give opening statements and echo their unwavering commitment to protection and solutions.
The Prime Minister of Montenegro expressed gratitude to UNHCR for its support as well as for recognizing the many contributions and results Montenegro made in providing protection to those forced to flee.
“The history has thought us Montenegrins to be welcoming to refugees, given that we saw firsthand during the turbulent 90s that anyone can be forced to flee. Even then, Montenegro provided safety to all who needed it. Today, I am particularly proud that the country provides safety to over 32,000 Ukrainians who can call Montenegro their home. For the Government of Montenegro, it is imperative that they feel safe, welcomed, and included,” said the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Mr. Dritan Abazovic.
UNHCR Representative to Montenegro commended Montenegro’s commitment to its open-door policy since 1992 and highlighted the importance of inclusion and subsequent access to rights for all who seek protection in the country.
“We at UNHCR commend Montenegro for having shown over the years a strong generosity and dedication to address the plight of forcibly displaced persons, regardless of their ethnic and religious background or political opinion. Today, the country is home to one of the largest per capita Ukrainian refugee populations in the world. The country is also at a doorstep of ensuring no other person is born stateless. The numerous results Montenegro achieved illustrate the spirit of inclusion and show Montenegro can be a source of Hope Away from Home for those forced to flee,” said UNHCR Representative to Montenegro, Mr. Jean Yves Bouchardy.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro talked about the importance of Temporary Protection Directive, which swiftly provided the Ukrainian refugees with access to protection and subsequent rights, such as employment, accommodation, healthcare and education.
“I commend Montenegro for demonstrating unparalleled hospitality towards Ukrainian refugees. Now more than ever, the EU remains committed to supporting those forced to leave their homes worldwide. In this endeavor, we are working hand in hand with our partners around the world. In Montenegro, we are especially proud of our partnership with the UNHCR and the national authorities. This partnership and cooperation is key for the paramount task of ensuring refugees feel safe and included,” said the Head of EU Delegation to Montenegro, H.E. Ms. Oana-Cristina Popa.
H.E. Ambassador of Ukraine, Mr. Oleg Herasymenko, expressed gratitude to the people and the government of Montenegro for selflessly hosting Ukrainian refugees, despite being a territorially small country. The ambassador also praised the commitment of UNHCR in finding practical and durable solutions for refugees residing in the country.
On 19 June, UNHCR Representative awarded the diplomas to students at the Faculty of Law of the University of Montenegro for successfully completing the Legal Clinic on the Refugee Law. Mr. Bouchardy expressed gratitude to the Faculty of Law for the continuous cooperation since 2007 and stressed that over the years nearly 500 students have completed the Legal Clinic and learned about UNHCR’s mandate and the refugee law.
On the eve of 20 June, the Capital City of Podgorica illuminated the bridge Millennium and joined UNHCR in marking the World Refugee Day by showing solidarity with persons forced to flee from due to war or persecution. This is but one of the side-activities the office has conducted in Montenegro to commemorate this important day.
On 21 June, UNHCR, UNHCR’s legal aid partner the Civic Alliance and the Municipality of Bar commemorated the World Refugee Day at the plateau in front of King Nikola’s Castle at the coastal city of Bar, which hosts numerous Ukrainian refugees. UNHCR Representative expressed gratitude to the citizens of Bar and the local authorities for hosting one of the largest Ukrainian refugee communities in the country. The opening remarks were followed by a cultural programme, including a refugee choir ensemble “Zima”, children theatre play, as well as an exhibition of paintings from refugee children.
On 22 June, the Red Cross of Montenegro and UNHCR organized a community-based event for children, reinforcing the World Refugee Day messaging in the context of refugee child protection and inclusion. The event, which included numerous sports activities for the children in the largest park in the capital city of Podgorica was attended by numerous guests, including Ukrainian Ambassador to Montenegro.
In the lead-up to World Refugee Day, on 15 – 16 June, UNHCR, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the Embassy of Ukraine in Montenegro, the Chamber of Commerce and the Union of Employers, jointly organized a job fair for Ukrainian Temporary Protection holders. Some 30 employers, mostly from the tourism sector, attended the job fair and presented their vacancies, with over 100 refugees attending the event.