UNHCR has proclaimed June 20th World Refugee Day. But depending on your community events, or your organization of choice, or the event you might choose to attend, World Refugee Day this year might be any day this week, so maybe it’s best to say World Refugee Day is this week.
The theme this year is “1”. As in “one refugee without hope is too many” so “do one thing”. Refugees are defined variously, one site that is put together in Britain defines them as asylees who have had their papers processed and have been granted admittance by the British government. In most OCHA documents on ReliefWeb, they are those people displaced by war or disaster who have left the country where they were living prior to that upheaval, as opposed to IDPs, which are internally displaced persons, wh are still in that country. OCHA stands for Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, the agency at the UN that coordinates relief efforts that are big enough to have lots of different humanitarian organizations working on them. One “one thing” might just be to go to relief web, and pick a red bubble on the map of the world and read for an hour. Or look up the maps that go with all the bubbles, and see where it is that all of the worlds 42 million refugees and IDPs have come from and where they have gone.
Yes, that’s right, 42 million. It’s a number so big it defies description in other terms. There are around 10,000 new refugees from Syria in Turkey. There are 649,600 people who have left Libya, and 243,000 IDPs. These are new ones. There are also 1.7 million people who have left the Democratic Republic of Congo, including 110,000 who left to the East last year and the year before, and 817,000 IDPs, probably including some of the 70,000 refugees who were forced back over the Angolan border recently at gunpoint. There are tens of thousands of Bhutanese refugees, refugees from Burma, the Ivory Coast, Colombia, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Somalia and many other countries around the globe.
What they have in common is they flee destruction of their lives in one place, and seek to rebuild their lives in another, many times walking for many, many miles and enduring harsh conditions, having already endured suffering that is almost unspeakable.
Here are some sites, some have events, some videos, some information. Do one thing, please.
There are many more, perhaps people can contribute them in comments, the link button has gone to sleep.