As the summer comes, this year’s UNHCR Refugee Film Festival finally starts. Thanks to the participation of many audiences last year, we can celebrate the launch of the Film Festival once again today.
People who were forcibly displaced from their homes are facing severe situations all over the world. Many of those who flee stay in neighboring countries and hope to return home one day.
What I urge you to do today is to get to know their reality a little bit deeper, and think about what we can do for them a little bit more. This film festival is being held to provide an opportunity to consider these topics.
People across Japan have repeatedly suffered from natural disasters. Thus, all of you understand deeply about how painful it is to see homes destroyed, and know well that it will take a long time to recover. It has driven you to extend a warm supportive hand toward tragedies in other countries.
UNHCR will continue to take action with your support, in order to help people around the world holding on to hope even while suffering grave difficulties. I hope that this film festival serves as a part of the driving force that makes such actions possible.
UNHCR Representative in Japan
We are celebrating our 12th year thanks to many of you coming to the Refugee Film Festival every year. Last year we held this festival in 4 cities (Sendai, Sapporo, Tokyo and Osaka). But this year, we increased screening locations up to 6 venues, which are Tokyo, Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Hiroshima, in order to gain wider support in Japan for the situation surrounding forcibly displaced people which is getting even worse throughout the world. I sincerely express my appreciation for the warm support we receive from all of you, sponsors, and partners.
At the end of 2016, the number of forcibly displaced people reached 65.6 million. There are unrelenting conflicts in every region including the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In short, many people are still suffering. All the films that will be shown during this festival reflect their reality.
I hope that this festival leads you to understand further about the real situation of the world today, and leads you to conclude that this is not just happening in faraway countries disconnected from our lives, but that there are actual people and families in these places to which we ought to turn our minds and hearts. Ultimately, we hope that this will be a chance for as many people as possible to join the effort in supporting refugees and others forced to flee their homes.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Japan for UNHCR