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Five Reflections on Refugees

This year’s World Refugee Day, on June 20, marked the first time global forced displacement topped 50 million since World-War II.

“We are witnessing a quantum leap in forced displacement in the world,” said António Guterres, head of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, as figures revealed a total of 51.2 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people.

The staff at Foreign Policy Magazine found 51.2 million a difficult number to conceptualize, so they offered several comparisons to make the number more attainable for readers. With 51.2 million refugees in the world right now, that’s:

– The same number as all of South Korea- plus a little (population 49, 039, 986).

– 23.3 times the total number of Wal-Mart employees (which totals at 2.2 million workers)

– Enough refugees to wrap around the world 2.2 times (standing arm-to-arm)

– Around the same number as all of Justin Bieber’s Twitter Followers (52.4 million)

While the numbers are difficult to conceptualize, the experiences of a refugee are even more so. Below are five quotes that begin to reflect the courage and fear experienced by refugees.

1. “While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage – the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.”

~Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees

2. “It’s not easy to start over in a new place…Exile is not for everyone. Someone has to stay behind, to receive the letters and greet family members when they come back.”

~Edwidge Danticat, Author (“Brother, I’m Dying”)

3. “You know, those of us who leave our homes in the morning and expect to find them there when we go back – it’s hard for us to understand what the experience of a refugee might be like.”

~Naomi Shihab Nye, Poet, Songwriter and Novelist

4. “Stability and security are just illusions. But they are necessary illusions because without them there would be no way of going on.”

~Andrew Crofts, Author (“Secrets of the Italian Gardener”)

5. “I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present.”

~Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary-General

– Blythe Riggan

Sources: Goodreads, UNHCR, BrainyQuote, ReliefWeb, Goodreads
Photo: FoxFromZim