Yesterday, June 20th, was World Refugee Day.

Designated to celebrate and acknowledge the strength of refugees around the world, World Refugee Day is an important reminder of the hardships many faces. Established by the UN in 2001, the day highlights the struggle refugees face.

Nonnprofit group MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) pull refugees out of the Mediterranean. Click the picture to read the article. Source: UNCHR
Nonnprofit group MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) pull refugees out of the Mediterranean. Click here to read the article.
Source: UNHCR

There are 65.6 million forcibly displaced people in the world today, according to the UN. This is a global issue that must be faced. However, the refugee issue is controversial, and many countries do not want to take on the problems of others.

The term forcibly displaced people refers to people who have been uprooted by external factors. Refugees, on the other hand, specifically refers to those who have fled their home country after being forcibly displaced, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). There are 22.5 million people officially classified as refugees, according to the UNHCR. As of 2016, only 189,300 refugees had been officially resettled. This disparity illustrates the refugee crises that we face today.

UNHCR Chart Source: UNHCR
UNHCR Chart
Source: UNHCR

The UNHCR called on global leaders to stand alongside refugees, and keep their promises to “do their fair share instead of leaving individual states to bear the burden of mass forced displacement,” according to a UNHCR press release.

To promote these goals, last year the UNHCR launched the social media campaign and petition, #WithRefugees. So far, over 1.5 million people signed the petition, and there have been nearly 1.6 million mentions of the hashtag on social media.

#WithRefugees Source: UNHCR
#WithRefugees
Source: UNHCR

The petitions ask global leaders to keep their promises to help refugees by following these priorities:

  • Each refugee child should have an education
  • All refugee family has a safe place to live
  • Every refugee can work or learn new skills to take care of their families.

You can sign the petition by clicking here.

Hoping to elicit sympathy, an important aspect of the campaign is reminding people about the difficulties that refugees face. “To escape the violence, they leave everything behind – everything except their hopes and dreams for a safer future. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency believes all refugees deserve to live in safety,” according to the UNHCR.

Part of a broader campaign, the movement will continue. The UNHCR is pushing for a “Global Compact for Refugees” by 2018. The UN pact aspires to manage the global refugee crisis through coming together and sharing responsibility. While the resolution may not successfully pass next year, the UNHCR pledges to continue the campaign until it is. Global leaders committed to work towards this goal in 2016.

The migrant crises, and how to handle it is controversial. Some want to keep displaced individuals out, and some welcome them with open arms. Ignoring a political position on the issue, it is important to remember that these are people.

Diego fled violence in Colombia and now studies mechanical engineering. Source: UNHCR
Diego fled violence in Colombia and now studies mechanical engineering.
Source: UNHCR

“I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world,” said UN Secretary-General, António Guterres in a statement.  “They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need.”

55% of all refugees come from South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. There are 5.5 million refugees from Syria alone. The country hosting the most refugees is Turkey, with 2.9 million people. Europe hosts 17% of all refugees. You can view more UNHCR statistic here.

You can read refugees’ personal stories by visiting the the UNHCR website.