High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency to Deliver Keynote Address at Freie Universität Berlin

Public Lecture on June 18 by Filippo Grandi on the Global Refugee Situation and Current Challenges Surrounding the Protection of Refugees

No 170/2019 from Jun 12, 2019

The High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, will visit Freie Universität on June 18. His talk in English will address the questions posed in its title: "Is There a Global Refugee Crisis’ Or Is Solidarity in Crisis?" The event will take place in the Henry Ford Building, Garystraße 35 (14195 Berlin, Subway station: Freie Universität/Thielplatz, U3) beginning at 4:15 p.m. After the speech, Filippo Grandi will engage in a discussion with students, moderated by Jaafar Abdul-Karim, known for his program "Shabab Talk" on Deutsche Welle. Freie Universität Vice President Verena Blechinger-Talcott will open the event with a welcome address and introduction. The event is being hosted in cooperation between UNHCR and the Center for International Cooperation at Freie Universität. Admission is free. The lecture is part of the events taking place during the university’s International Week.

By 2015 at the latest, Europeans became aware that there was no more ignoring the question of how to deal with refugees, as hundreds of thousands started arriving. But the European perspective on global problems like displacement is often one-dimensional. Is there even a "refugee crisis" or is it just the result of a polarized debate? Debates on the topic continue to become more and more aggressive in many countries. What does this mean in terms of solidarity with refugees’ What effects does it have on German civil society and the chances of finding political solutions’ Commitment to the issue is a promising development. Many, often young people, participate in refugee aid, sea rescue, and hundreds of nongovernmental organizations, associations, and initiatives. How this sense of responsibility for and solidarity with refugees might carry on into the future will be the focus of High Commissioner Filippo Grandi’s Q&A with students.

As High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi leads one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations. The UNHCR has won two Nobel Prizes for its work. Its almost 17,000 staff members work in more than 138 countries providing protection and assistance to over 70 million refugees, returnees, internally displaced people, and stateless persons. On June 19, 2019, the day after his lecture at Freie Universität, High Commissioner Grandi will present the UNHCR’s annual report at the Bundespressekonferenz (BPK; German Federal Press Conference). The "Global Trends" report provides a wealth of statistical data on displacement and forced migration that gives an overview of refugee numbers worldwide.

On June 20, World Refugee Day, Freie Universität Berlin is organizing an event for recipients of scholarships through the DAFI program (the German-funded Albert Einstein Academic Refugee Initiative) and participants in the Welcome@FUBerlin program. The UNHCR’s DAFI scholarship program provides support to refugees from different countries through a stipend from the German Federal Foreign Office. Students receive financial support for their studies in their host country, for example, a Sudanese student refugee living in Kenya. The abbreviation DAFI stands for "Deutsche Akademische Flüchtlingsinitiative Albert Einstein" (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative).

During Freie Universität’s International Week (June 17 to 21), current and prospective students, researchers, and administrative staff can learn about the university’s global partnerships, international exchange programs, and funding opportunities. The main hub for International Week events is the Seminar Center located at Otto-von-Simon-Str. 26, Berlin-Dahlem.

Time and Place of the UNHCR High Commissioner’s Speech

  • Henry Ford Building, Freie Universität Berlin (Hall A/Hörsaal A), Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin,
    Subway station: Freie Universität/Thielplatz (U3)
  • June 18, 4:15 p.m.

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