Statement by CEB Governor Rolf Wenzel on the World Refugee Day
20 June 2019
Paris - In the words of British Somali poet Warsan Shire, “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” According to the United Nations, every minute of the day no fewer than 20 persons “leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.” They become forcibly displaced persons, a broad category which includes refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons.20 June has been designated as World Refugee Day, with the aim of raising public awareness about refugees, sensitising people to the problems facing refugees and their families, and mobilising political will and financial resources to tackle those problems. On this day, people and communities all around the world are encouraged to “take a step with refugees”, as reads this year’s theme for this international day.
Refugee issues and policies are of special relevance to the CEB, which was established in the 1950s precisely in order to find adequate solutions to the problems of the thousands of refugees and displaced persons which World War II created. Aid to refugees has been part of this Bank’s mandate and activities from the start. This is the reason that, since the establishment of the CEB, more than €4.4 billion has been approved for projects benefiting directly migrants, refugees, and displaced persons.
This is also why, when the inflow of migrants and refugees into Europe reached crisis proportions in 2015, the CEB was among the very first to raise awareness and mobilise resources so as, on the one hand, to help European countries deal with the emergency situation at hand, and, on the other hand, facilitate the medium- and long-term integration of migrants and refugees. Since its establishment in October 2015, the CEB’s Migrant and Refugee Fund (MRF) has raised close to €30 million for emergency migrant and refugee projects in the parts of Europe that needed our support the most. In addition, the CEB follows, and is involved in, numerous other initiatives at the European and international level in that respect – far too many to enumerate here.
I am pleased to reaffirm that, on this special day, the CEB and its people “take a step” in full solidarity with refugees in Europe and beyond.
Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 41 member states. Twenty-two Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (AAA with Standard & Poor's, outlook stable, AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook stable and Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.