Voices

Message from UNHCR


Allow me to thank the 11 partner universities of the Refugee Higher Education Programme (RHEP) for enabling the refugees, through the scholarship programme, to learn about themselves and the world around them, while striving to rebuild their lives in Japan. Since its inception in 2006, almost 50 refugee students have benefitted from this programme, which UNHCR considers an important and commendable contribution for providing solutions to refugees.

On the eve of this year’s World Refugee Day (20 June), UNHCR announced the latest official statistics on forced displacement around the world which marked a new high in 2017 for the fifth year in a row, led by the crises in Syrian Arab Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan’s civil war, and the flight into Bangladesh from Myanmar of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. Considering the scale and complexity of the displacement challenges we are facing today, education is crucial in finding solutions, and in preparing refugees to rebuild their lives, and to enable them to contribute their skills and knowledge to their new environment. UNHCR advocates for education as a basic right in the context of the 1951 Refugee Convention and other international human rights instruments. Ensuring refugees’ access to education is one of UNHCR’s priorities, including higher education, through scholarship programmes adapted to the refugees’ circumstances; RHEP is a good example of this.

At the UN General Assembly in September 2016, the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants pointed out education as a critical element of the international refugee response. Globally, UNHCR partners with governments and international organisations to ensure quality education for refugee children and young people everywhere. Here in Japan, with the help of the partner universities, RHEP continues to give hope to refugees. In the spirit of a ‘Global Compact for Refugees’ now under preparation to be adopted in autumn 2018, UNHCR is encouraging the partner universities to expand their refugee education programme even further and stands ready to support them in this important endeavour.

Dirk Hebecker, Representative

Message from RHEP Secretariat

Today, only 1 per cent of eligible refugees have access to higher education, compared to 36 per cent of global youth. Access to higher education is similarly uneasy for the refugees reside in Japan, many of approximately 15,000 people living in Japan with refugee or refugee-like status given by Japanese government, have no option but to forgo the idea of pursuing it.

Under such circumstances, RHEP is offering with supports from universities fulfilling student life to refugee students who are provided with an opportunity to study diligently at a RHEP partner university. Many of on-going students hope to, after their graduation, make contributions to the local and international communities, including the ones in their country of origins if the circumstances allow, while those who have graduated are making such contributions actively. .

We hope that this programme provide essential opportunities for refugees to study and gain qualifications for rebuilding their lives, enabling them to contribute their skills and knowledge to their new environment. In addition, we really hope that the programme has great influence on their Japanese classmates who study with RHEP students at the universities too.

The Secretariat of Refugee Higher Education Programme
(Satoru Miyazawa, UNHCR Representative Japan / Kyoko Senda, Japan for UNHCR)