On World Refugee Day: An Opportunity to Change the Narrative
I was standing in the medical container of the refugee camp in Greece where I was volunteering when all the sudden, I heard shouting and saw dozens of people running towards me. In the chaos, it was very difficult to tell what had happened and who was hurt. Two children were passed to our nurses and I could see they were severely burned. A woman was laid down at our door unconscious, a man was screaming. Someone finally translated – a gas cooker had exploded inside of a tent where a mother, father and two of their three children were sitting. In their pursuit of safety, this family, like so many, was left with life-changing injuries. This story and so many others highlight why World Refugee Day is so important. According to the UN, we have never had more displaced persons worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution. During these arduous journeys, thousands don’t even survive.
· Every day, 28,300 people are forced to leave their homes because of conflict and persecution.
· There are 22.5 million refugees, half of which are under the age of 18.
· In total, there are 65.6 million people displaced around the world.
· Only 189,300 refugees were resettled in 2016 worldwide.
Standing with #WithRefugees
In 2016, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched a #WithRefugees campaign and petition and to date, almost two million people have pledged their support. With World Refugee Day this month, the UNHCR hopes to continue to build momentum for this petition, which encourages decision makers to ensure three basic goals: that every refugee child gets an education, has somewhere safe to live, and can work or learn new skills to support their families.
In addition to many NGO and nonprofit partners, major brands have joined the #WithRefugees coalition including Airbnb, Ben & Jerry’s, Expedia, H&M, IKEA, Microsoft, Orange, and WeWork, among others. For World Refugee Day, there are many examples of these companies and others demonstrating their strong commitments to this crisis, here are just a few:
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