Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks at a World Refugee Day event, co-hosted by the Department of State and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Friday, June 18. Along with Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Eric Schwartz and President of the International Rescue Committee George Rupp, the Secretary was joined electronically by UNHCR Antonio Gutierrez in Syria, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie at a refugee camp in Ecuador, and from refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Secretary said, "This marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Refugee Act, and I want to thank each and every one of you who have been instrumental over these past 30 years, because the plight of the world's refugees is an issue that transcends not just geography and ethnicity, but politics and partisanship as well. It reminds us that we are all vulnerable, no matter how comfortable our lives may appear to be, but we, too, around the world -- those of us who enjoy the benefits of the life that we have built or inherited, we, too, are vulnerable to war and conflict, droughts and floods, environmental disasters, as we've seen even in our own country.
She continued, "Now, for the United States this has been an enduring commitment, but our work on behalf of refugees is not the result of some grand strategic calculus. We don't help because it bolsters our ability to play power politics or advance our economic interests, although in the long run I believe it does make our nation stronger and allow us to promote reconciliation and stability in areas of desperation and despair. We help because it is the right thing to do. We happen to believe it's also the smart thing to do, but even in cases where it doesn't appear all that smart, it's still often right. And therefore, we proceed."
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