During his recent visit to Rome the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon gets personal telling the story of his own experience as a refugee during the Korean conflict and urging Western countries to see the potential in the wave of refugees on the move to escape war, violence and poverty
On Sunday, October 17th, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, visited the Centro Tenda di Abramo, a refugee center in Rome. It was one of many stops in his trip to Italy, where he addressed the Italian Parliament in celebration of the 60 year anniversary of Italys joining of the United Nations, and delivering a speech at the Third World Forum on Local Economic Development. At the refugee center, Mr. Ban told a personal story relating to our worlds most tragic current global issue: the immigration crisis, displacing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children from their homes and leaving them stranded at sea.
“When I was six years old" – explained the Secretary-General – "I myself was one of them. It was 65 years ago. When the Korean War broke out, I had to flee my village to a safer place, even though it was very remote. At that time, I did not know what politics was. I only knew that I was hungry and needed something to eat".
“At that time, the United Nations came. The blue flag of the United Nations. That was a beacon of hope. They saved us.”
In this period of his life, he was often without food, shelter, and safety. Mr. Ban, drawing off his own story, addressed the world taking a stance to fight for today's migrants facing these very same hardships.
“This is not a ‘crisis of numbers'" – continued Ban – "this is a crisis of global solidarity. It is not as issue of how many people a country can adopt and care for, but an issue of nations’ abilities to fight for those who are in need of their help. It is a time to show compassion and stand in solidarity with those who are fighting for their, and their loved ones', lives. We must strengthen our global community to provide basic needs to these migrants, such as food, education, and sanitation".
Mr. Ban addresses the good care that European nations, including Italy, have given to the displaced people, and expressed his gratitude to the volunteers, educators, teachers, and philanthropists who are showing their humanity by aiding the rescues, and care-taking.
Mr. Ban highlighted the efforts that he and the United Nations have made to help with the crisis. He assures the world that the UN is mobilizing all their resources, including a summit meeting on migration and refugees brought before the General Assembly this past September.
Mr. Ban left Rome with strong remarks: “I am sure that one of these refugees, one day, overcoming all of these difficulties, may be Secretary-General of the United Nations in the future. They can be government and community leaders. They have great potential. The potential of refugees should be fully utilized. If they are supported, they can be honorable and very talented contributors to your societies”.
He reminded his European audiences that they should provide the care we wish upon ourselves, and that by nations taking in refugees, and people aiding them, we are showing that the world stands as a strong community, united by peace and compassion urging to show strength through humanity.