Reasons To Care About World Refugee Day

Each year on June 20, we commemorate World Refugee Day to salute the courage and resilience of the world's refugees and displaced persons.  This year, however, it takes on a particularly special meaning. According to the just-released Global Trends Report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), nearly 60 million people have fled their homes as refugees, internally displaced people or asylum seekers.  It is a staggering number – equivalent to one in every 122 people on this planet.  Now, more than ever, the world’s refugees and displaced people need our help.

Here are three other reasons why all of us -- governments and individuals alike -- should take heed. 

1. These aren’t just numbers, they’re people: They include Syrian families fleeing Asad’s relentless and indiscriminate barrel bombings, South Sudanese mothers who have walked hundreds of miles carrying small children to safety, girls who fled Taliban attacks in Afghanistan.  They are people like us, who find themselves stripped of everything they have and struggling to survive as they contend with circumstances beyond their control.  Despite all of this, they haven’t given up on themselves.  We can’t give up on them either.

2. Assistance makes a difference: Sixty million people is hard to envision.  It is even harder to understand how one could help such a large number of people.  But we know this:  From Ukraine to Somalia, Iraq to Afghanistan, humanitarian assistance is easing their suffering and keeping millions of people alive. The UN Refugee Agency, the UN World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and a vast array of other aid organizations are doing heroic work every day wherever there is conflict and displacement.  But these organizations need more support from governments and individuals.  It is a sad fact that most UN’s appeals are grossly underfunded.  For instance, the 2015 UN appeal for the Central African Republic – seeking $613 million to support 2.7 million people – is just 21 percent funded.  We can do better, and even small cash donations can keep families going for weeks.

3. Helping refugees is an investment in global stability: Helping uprooted people is not just an act of charity for people far away, whose problems will never touch us.  It is an investment in stability everywhere.  The migration crises roiling the Mediterranean and South East Asia illustrate how conflict, oppression, and desperation have consequences that can spread far beyond places beset by war and conflict.  Aiding uprooted children is particularly urgent. The UN Children’s Fund has warned that one in every four children and young adolescents in the Middle East and North Africa are either out of school or at risk of dropping out today.  Those children, the opportunities they have and the choices they make, will determine the future not only of embattled nations like Syria and Iraq, but also of neighboring countries that host millions of refugees.   

The United States is committed to assisting the world’s refugees and displaced people.  Last year, we provided some $6 billion in humanitarian assistance to aid agencies helping vulnerable people around the globe, and we resettled nearly 70,000 refugees referred by UNHCR.  We are proud of these contributions, though we know that people caught up in crises need more.  They need an end to these conflicts, their rights protected, and efforts to bring suffering and exile to an end.  Until then, everyone can do more to close the yawning gap between the aid available and the mounting needs – by donating, advocating to keep borders open, and offering safe haven to those in need.   There are people just like you and me who are depending on it.

About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Populations, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S. Department of State.

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Comments

Comments

Dian C.
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Australia
June 20, 2015
Ordinary people living through extraordinary times.
hamdan a.
|
Yemen
September 30, 2015
many people suffering from bad situation ofwar between parts ofYemen. Sothat many Yemeni people searchfor shelters, refuge themby contact your considered organization to get help soon not later to guide us toreach safe shelters ornearest centers ofpeople refugee. The real questionto ask where couldwe gotoget arefugee center after contact your support desk tohelp us by referring your concerning tosend us tocountries tosafe us fromconflict between parties of war inYemen toget safe life,food,house, work. Badly discription to express all problem. Every body know how much is difficult tobe Yemeni refugee inanther country especially online Iunderstandthat it will be solved by register our application according toUNHCRORGANIZATIONTO BE SAFED APPLICANT REFUGEE INCOUNTRIES YOU COULD SEND US TO BEACCEPTED YEMENIREFUGEE. THANKS FORYOUR HELPING MEAND MY FRIENDS TO GET THEIR REFUGEE APPLICATION BY YOUR RESPECT UNHCR HAMDAN ALAKHALY, SANTA,YEMEN
Displaced child stands next to his tent in Kabul, Afghanistan
Displaced people arrive with their belongings after fleeing fighting between government and rebel forces in South Sudan
Syrian refugee carryies a baby over the broken border fence into Turkey
A Somali woman carries her belongings as she flees Somalia
Posted by Anne C. Richard
June 19, 2015

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