Awareness Around Global Poverty Helps
Raising awareness is a key strategy of ending global poverty. Raising awareness around global poverty helps bring people together who share the goal of eliminating global poverty. There are several factors to consider when channeling awareness. Public interest and celebrity involvement can play a factor in successful events involving raising awareness.

Social Media

Social media is an effective method many nonprofits use to help raise awareness about global poverty. A U.S. study revealed that 47% of those surveyed were able to learn about important causes such as global poverty via social media. Moreover, it showed that 15% gained an awareness of issues relating to ending poverty through social media. Additionally, social media compelled 56% of its consumers to contribute to missions relating to global poverty eradication. The study showed that 59% of people who engaged with a post donated money, while about 53% acted by volunteering, 52% donated items such as clothing or food, 43% became involved in an event for the cause and about 40% purchased a product that supported the cause monetarily.

More than half of all Facebook users have said that they support a charity or cause pertaining to ending global poverty so that their friends can see their support. Also, those engaging in fundraising efforts have seen results up to 10 times greater when incorporating Twitter. While the numbers show how effective using social media to raise awareness can be, it is important that nonprofits strategically approach issues and carefully consider target audiences.

International Focus Days

Days like Giving Tuesday are often effective in raising awareness and donations pertaining to global issues. Donations on Giving Tuesday have grown by more than $360 million from 2012 to 2018. Facebook and PayPal match millions of dollars in donations in honor of the day.

The United Nations raised awareness on the issues of global poverty by marking October 17, 2020, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It used the day to raise awareness of how those living in poverty suffer and what others can do to make a differente. The U.N. used #Endpoverty to raise awareness and educate the public about global poverty. The U.N. recognizes and promotes many international focus days throughout the year which raises awareness on issues that those living in extreme poverty face. These international focus days include World Tuberculosis Day and World Refugee Day.

The Make Poverty History Campaign

The involvement of celebrities in various initiatives often attracts attention, aiding in raising awareness about global poverty. In 2005, the world stood together for the Make Poverty History campaign, a global campaign with the aim of addressing major issues that those living in extreme poverty face. More than 40 celebrities endorsed the event and rallied their fans’ support. Among those celebrities were Pink, Nelson Mandela, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Celebrities held rallies and performed concerts to help raise awareness. Their endorsements initiated action.

Informing World Leaders

The efforts focused on bringing the issues of poverty to the attention of world leaders. The objective was to encourage them to take action. In the 10 years following the Make Poverty History campaign, aid to Africa increased by more than 60%. In fact, European aid to impoverished countries increased by 48%. This aid led to 36 targeted countries wiping out more than $90 billion in debt for their citizens, HIV cases dropping by 33% in targeted parts of Africa, malaria reducing deaths by more than 50% in Africa and polio reducing cases to less than 500 globally by 2013. Additionally, more than 30 million African children started school, whereas poverty previously affected their enrollment.

How Awareness Around Global Poverty Helps

While there is evidence that shows the effectiveness of raising awareness, there are those that argue the effectiveness. In an article entitled “Stop Raising Awareness Already” by Ann Christiano and Annie Niemand, the writers caution about the dangers of raising awareness and that it can have the opposite of the desired effect causing people to disregard the message if it does not receive proper execution and result in action. While proper execution of raising awareness is crucial to action, no action can occur without awareness.

Again, raising awareness around global poverty helps bring communities together to help create change on issues. Awareness can bring enthusiasm to people and help them feel inspired to create change or act. While awareness alone cannot end global poverty, it is a crucial and effective first step.

– Carolyn Lyrenmann
Photo: Flickr

celebrities who were refugeesEach year, June 20 is just another day for the average person; for many, however, it symbolizes the struggles of past and present refugees fleeing their homes for better, safer lives. World Refugee Day is a time when many reflect on how far they have come since leaving their home countries, whether they are blue-collar workers or famous names. Here are the experiences of four celebrities who were refugees before they were stars.

Four Celebrities Who Were Refugees

  1. Gloria Estefan
    World-famous singer, Gloria Estefan, was born in Havana, Cuba. She and her family fled the country in 1960, after the Cuban Revolution. After landing in Florida, Estefan’s father joined the American army and took part in the Bay of Pigs invasion. Estefan was granted citizenship in 1974 and joined the band Miami Sound Machine, which was the beginning of her legendary career. Currently, Estefan has seven Grammys.
  2. Mila Kunis
    Kunis, well-known for her role on That ‘70s Show and as the voice of Meg on Family Guy, was born and raised for the first seven years of her life in Ukraine. After facing years of anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union, the family was granted a religious-refugee visa and fled to the United States in 1991, settling in Los Angeles, California.

    In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kunis reflected on her experience: “It was right at the fall [of the Soviet Union]. It was very communist, and my parents wanted my brother and me to have a future, and so they just dropped everything. They came with $250.” She describes her initial experience of living in the U.S. as “like being blind and deaf at age 7” because of the extreme culture shock she faced. Kunis, like other celebrities with similar experiences, is now a staunch advocate for refugees and has criticized the Trump administration’s actions surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis.

  3. M.I.A.
    Rapper M.I.A. was born in London but moved to Sri Lanka with her family as an infant. After her father organized an independence movement for ethnic Tamils, civil war broke out and the family was forced to flee. Initially, M.I.A. and her family settled in India but eventually landed in London.

    Discussing her experiences with NME, she stated: “If you’re coming from the war zone, you definitely got an issue. You have to adapt to a new place, you have to start new schools—every kid is going to go through all the things I went through. They’re gonna be in a council flay, they have to fill out the forms, sit in the waiting rooms, get housed, wait for your voucher for your school uniform. And you had to come up with how to make luncheon vouchers look cool because you’re the only kid that’s got ‘em!”

  4. Rita Ora
    Ora was born in what was once Pristina, Yugoslavia, now known as Kosovo. Once Yugoslavia dissolved, ethnic Albanians, including 1-year-old Ora and her family, began to be persecuted by Slobodan Milosevic’s regime. The family, like those of many of the other celebrities who were refugees, fled to London, where they faced prejudice as refugees. The family was determined to have a better life, though, despite the discrimination.

    In an interview with the Evening Standard, Ora encouraged other refugees and their families to do the same, while reminding others about the toll that fleeing can take on people: “That word [refugee] carries a lot of prejudice but it also made us determined to survive. When you put anyone into an alien environment, where other people aren’t completely comfortable with them being there, they are automatically going to be defensive. It’s the rule of the jungle, right?”

At a time when open-door policies and actions regarding the refugee crisis are often controversial, these four celebrities who were refugees are challenging the stigma around being a refugee and whom it is we think of when discussing refugees.

– Shania Kennedy
Photo: Google Images

Refugee CrisisOn June 20, the world stood in solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers in observation of World Refugee Day, a time to consider the refugee crisis.

The occasion came at a pivotal time in the U.S, as public outcries about border practices separating families reached a high. This refugee crisis stems from the Trump administration’s use of separation as a deterrent for crossing the border in combination with the administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy, which requires immediate arrest for those crossing illegally. More than 2,300 kids have been separated from their families.

Nine facts about refugees

  1. More people have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict than at any other time since World War II. The world is facing the biggest refugee crisis to date.  At the end of 2017, 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution on grounds of race, religion, political opinion and violence or conflict.
  1. Half of the refugees are under the age of 18. In some countries, including the U.S., migrant kids are even forced to represent themselves in a court of law.
  1. Under international law, refugees are not allowed to be forced back to their home countries. This law places an obligation for the state to not return a refugee to “the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
  1. Developing countries host 86 percent of the world’s refugees. The most popular host countries are Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia.
  1. More than half of the world’s refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Approximately one in five displaced persons come from Syria, where conflict has created an intense refugee crisis.
  1. Saudi Arabia does not register migrants as international refugees. This may not seem like a big deal, but the policy forces migrants to go through the Saudi visa process, during which the government can deny visas and deport individuals. If the individuals were registered as refugees, it would be illegal for the Saudi government to deport them under international law.
  1. Australia’s military blocks refugees before they reach its shores. The practice is coined as Operation Sovereign Borders. Military officials patrol waters to intercept migrants and send them to India or Indonesia. If migrant boats make it to Australia, its passengers are not allowed to stay on the mainland while their asylum cases are processed. Instead, they are sent to processing centers on the island of Naura. Human Rights Watch has begun to shut down such facilities.

  1. In one French town, it is illegal to feed refugees. The northern regions of France used to be home to a refugee settlement called the Jungle, which served as a temporary camp for thousands of migrants seeking asylum across the English Channel in the U.K. In 2016, however, authorities closed the site due to health and terrorism concerns. To ensure the camp remain dismantled, the city’s mayor enacted decrees banning organizations from giving food to any migrants.
  1. Germany has welcomed asylum-seekers in a way to revitalize run-down towns. The German law guarantees the right to asylum for all persons who flee political persecution.  Additionally, any unaccompanied migrant under the age of 18 is provided with a legal guardian to act on his or her behalf and to help navigate the asylum process.

With numbers of refugees rising, the world is faced with a great task of amending practices and treating all persons with respect. Many point to dealing with the root issue of migration rather than adjusting policy and procedure. This view is misinformed, however, as intervention in the home country is often very difficult, controversial and unsuccessful. Instead, we ought to come together as cohabitants of the planet to bring about positive change surrounding this global refugee crisis.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr

help refugeesJune 20 marked the 18th anniversary of world refugee day. There are currently 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Of those millions, 25.4 million people are classified as refugees.

World Refugee Day holds a long history of support for those in need. This day is celebrated in order to give all an opportunity to help refugees and to create a public awareness for millions of lives that are in need of saving.

Since the beginning of World Refugee Day in 2000, the refugee crisis has increased greatly. Growing from 12 million in 2000 to more than 20 million in 2018, refugees can be found seeking shelter in many countries.

The United Nations

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has taken steps to fight the refugee crisis. The UNHCR provides assistance and support to refugees all over the world. Present in 128 countries and 478 locations around the world, the UNHCR is helping those wherever they can.

For example, in Ukraine, the UNHCR is working with the Ukrainian government to help strengthen the asylum system and gives medical, material and social assistance to those refugees and internally displaced people. In Ukraine, there are currently 1,800,000 people who are internally displaced and 3,253 refugees from other countries.

Along with working with the government and giving assistance to those in need, the UNHCR in Ukraine provided 843 homes with winter cash assistance in 2018.

Another recent effort presented by the UNHCR was their assistance in Montenegro. On April 3 the UNHCR paired with the Red Cross and opened the first Community Centre for persons seeking international protection.


The UNHCR doesn’t only just provide physical materials and goods; they also are committed to bringing education to refugees all over the world.

By the end of 2016, the UNHCR had encouraged 64 out of 81 countries to put policies in place to support the inclusion of refugee children in the respective countries education system. After this push, more than 984,000 refugee children were enrolled in primary education.

Of that 984,000 refugee children, 250,000 were not attending school at the time.

How to Help

While the UNHCR is continually working to better the lives of refugees all over the world, there is still plenty of work that can be done on the individual level for refugees. Here are five ways that anyone can get involved no matter where they may be.

  1. Volunteer a skill: Having a specific skill or talent can be used for good to help refugees. Whether knowing how to budget extremely well or how to create a website, there are refugees in local communities who would appreciate learning a new talent or skill to help them with their future endeavors.
  2. Spread awareness: Hold fundraisers, raffles, yard sales or meetings to spread the word about the refugee crisis. There are some that may know there is a problem, but don’t know much more than that. By putting on events and spreading the word, education about this crisis will increase awareness.
  3. Call the House Representatives and the Senate: Calling local state representatives is a quick and easy way to let one’s voice be heard. Placing a call to a member of the House or Senate will let them know that this is an issue that you care about and want to address.
  4. Support business and organizations run by refugees: Moving to a new country and facing the economic challenges of that country can be one of the hardest things for refugees. Supporting their family can be difficult for refugees in a new country. Make an effort to buy from refugees to help them get started in a new place.
  5. Donate: Donating can be one of the easiest ways to help refugees in need. Donations can be for organizations that go out into the field and provide physical goods or they can be for organizations, like The Borgen Project, that push elected officials to support and pass laws to help those in need.

While the refugee crisis continues to grow, it is important to know that anyone can take part in getting laws passed to protect refugees or can offer kindness to those who are adjusting to drastic life changes.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr

June 20, 2016 was recognized by organizations, communities and leaders alike as World Refugee Day. According to a report conducted by the United Nations, there is a record number of 65.3 million refugees who were displaced due to war by the end of 2015. This is more than the population of France, California, and Texas combined, with more than half of these refugees being children.

With such a high traffic of refugees being displaced globally, understanding the truth about this displaced population is more relevant than ever. Recent studies have shown an increase in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments in classrooms and the workplace. One such study, conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed in a survey that included over a third of American teachers reported an increase of anti-immigrant sentiments in their classrooms.

However, these sentiments are often caused by general fear and media misrepresentation rather than the refugees themselves. In fact, refugees are very beneficial to the communities they move in to, offering an increase in both civic participation and great economic contributions. World Refugee Day sheds light on these facts and aids in the perception of refugees.

A recent study of refugees residing in Columbus Ohio showed that these displaced families and individuals made economic contributions of about $1.6 million. Moreover, these refugees also contributed to social diversity as well which is ultimately conducive to building a more globalized identity.

Refugee settlement and mentor programs, such as those conducted by The Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO), which spur acceptance, tolerance and the chance at assimilation for many displaced individuals and families result in amazing rewards for the communities that establish them.

According to a study by The Refugee Integration Survey and Evaluation (RISE), which focused on the integration progress of refugees over a span of five years, most refugees offer valuable and productive roles in the communities they are displaced to. Programs such as those conducted by CCANO simply quicken the process. And events, such as those in Rochester, New York on June 18, 2016, held in honor of World Refugee Day, allow refugees to share their stories as well as their cultures, reminding us that these displaced people are first and foremost, people.

Jenna Salisbury

Photo: Flickr

According to the UN Refugee Agency, Turkey is the top refugee-hosting country in the world with just under 2 million asylum seekers. A vast majority of the refugees are Syrians, Kurds and Iraqis fleeing the violence of the Syrian Civil War and ongoing crisis involving the Islamic State.

In an effort to bring awareness to one of the largest refugee crises in history, Angelina Jolie embarked on a UN tour of the affected region. The movie star and long-time humanitarian was joined by her daughter, Shiloh, and stopped at the Midyat Refugee Camp in Turkey on June 20th to commemorate World Refugee Day. Jolie was also accompanied by UN Special Envoy Antonio Guterres. The group met with Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss the challenges that Turkey faces given an unprecedented number of refugees.

Jolie issued a statement at the camp in which she calls on the world to act. She said, “We are here for a simple reason: This region is at the epicenter of a global crisis. Nearly 60 million people are displaced from their homes. That is one in every 122 people on our planet. Our world has never been richer or healthier or more advanced. Yet never before have so many people been dispossessed and stripped of their basic human rights.”

Later in her speech Jolie stressed the impact that refugee camps have on the people that house them. While providing more security than war torn cities and villages, the camps more often than not make the poor even worse off. Jolie stated, “Families like the six young people I met yesterday, living in Lebanon without parents, on half food rations and paying US$100 a month to live in a tent because UNHCR does not have the funds or capability to take full care of everyone.” Already with limited resources and away from home, refugees have the burden of coming up with funds to keep their temporary shelter even though, as refugees, they “cannot legally work in their host-countries.”

There is hope, however. Jolie made her speech on a key day, a day dedicated to bringing light to the very issues at the core of her delivery. Her celebrity status will ensure that more people listen to her message, and in turn act to help. Jolie and other media figures have even inspired governments to act. Jolie thanked the governments of Turkey and other refugee hosting nations for taking in millions. To finish, the actress wished all the families she spoke to, and by extension the refugee families across the globe, a good Ramadan with “Ramadan Kareem.”

Joe Kitaj

Sources: UNHCR, US Magazine
Photo: Women’s Day

Worldwide Displacement Hits Record High
A new report released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows that the number of people displaced around the world has reached record highs.

The annual report, Global Trends: World at War, was released June 18. It details the staggering increase in refugees, internally displaced people, and people awaiting outcomes for asylum claims.

At the end of last year, 59.5 million people were displaced around the world, an increase of more than 16 percent from the end of 2013. The increase is the biggest one-year jump ever recorded. Every day, 42,500 people had to leave their homes.

As a result, one out of every 122 people is now displaced. If this were a country, it would be the 24th most populous in the entire world.

Out of the 59.5 million people displaced worldwide, 19.5 million are refugees, 38.2 million live displaced within their own country, and 1.8 million are awaiting decisions on asylum applications. All three numbers are more than 14 percent higher than 2013 figures.

In addition, UNHCR saw four times the amount of newly displaced people last year as compared to 2013, with 13.9 million forcibly displaced.

The three main causes of the increase in displacement are war, conflict and persecution. In the last five years, the world has seen 15 conflicts either erupt or resume, eight in Africa and three in both the Middle East and Asia.

Specifically, the Syrian Civil War puts the country at the top of the list when it comes to the number of people internally displaced and refugees, with 7.6 million and 3.88 million, respectively.

Afghanistan and Somalia follow in terms of biggest sources of refugees.

Around the world, displacement in Europe increased 51 percent, due in large part to the conflict in Ukraine. The number of those displaced in the Middle East and North Africa went up 19 percent, in addition to 17 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. Asia saw an increase of 31 percent, and the Americas saw an increase of 12 percent.

Turkey is the top host of refugees, home to a little more than 1.5 million. Pakistan follows, with Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia rounding out the top five.

Statistics show that regions that are developing, host 86 percent of the world’s refugees, with over 5.9 million living in countries with a per capita GDP of less than $5,000.

Furthermore, children constitute more than half of the world’s refugees, and last year, almost 35,000 asylum applications were submitted by children who were unaccompanied or separated from their families.

World Refugee Day, which takes place every year on June 20, aims to show the world who the refugees are and why they need help. One of its primary goals is to demonstrate how refugees are ordinary people who found themselves in unexpected circumstances.

The hope is that through awareness, governments and people will do more to improve the conditions of those who have to leave their homes and help create opportunities for a better life.

– Matt Wotus

Sources: UNAIDS, UNHCR 1, UNHCR 2,
Photo: UNHCR


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

famous refugees
June 20 marked the 65th World Refugee Day, described by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as “a special day when the world takes time to recognize the resilience of forcibly displaced people throughout the world.”

The official definition of the term “refugee,” quoted from the 1951 Refugee Convention, states:

“A refugee is someone who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

While many associate this definition to the countless faces pictured in the midst of crisis, like the current situation in Syria, the term refugee can be applied to prominent figures that have made a significant change in our international history. Below are just five examples of famous refugees that have made a difference.

1. Albert Einstein
Profession: Scientist
Country of Origin: Germany
Country of Asylum: United States of America
Backstory: As a German Jew, Einstein was accused of treason and his books were thrown into Hitler’s bonfires. Finding it increasingly difficult to work in Nazi Germany, Einstein took a job at Princeton University in 1932 and gained United States citizenship. Despite having left Germany, Einstein and his wife continued to support the German Jews from abroad, making visa applications for refugees and later selling his 1905 research paper on special relativity, earning $6 million towards the war effort.
Quote: “I am privileged by fate to live here in Princeton,” Einstein wrote in a letter to the Belgian Queen. “In this small university town the chaotic voices of human strife barely penetrate. I am almost ashamed to be living in such peace while all the rest struggle and suffer.”

2. Frédéric Chopin
Profession: Composer
Country of Origin: Poland
Country of Asylum: France
Backstory: Chopin left his home country to advertise Poland’s fight, against the Russians, through music abroad. After leaving Warsaw for Vienna, the fighting broke out and Chopin was notified that he was longer welcome back in Poland.
Quote: “Oh, how hard it must be to die anywhere but in one’s birthplace.”

3. Madeline Albright
Profession: First Female U.S. Secretary of State
Country of Origin: Czech Republic
Country of Asylum: United States of America
Backstory: Albright is unique in the fact that her family was forced to leave her home country on two separate occasions. The family fled to England when Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia during World War II and later fled Prague during the Communist takeover of 1948.
Quote: “My father had been in the Czechoslovakian Diplomatic Service. I was a refugee during World War II in England as a little girl and lived through the Blitz. I then went back and had a fairly glorious life as a daughter of an ambassador. And then all of a sudden we were again refugees and came to the (U.S.) with nothing.”

4. Sigmund Freud
Profession: Neurologist
Country of Origin: Austria
Country of Asylum: England
Backstory: Upon the Nazi army’s attack on Austria, Freud fled to London and became a refugee at age 84, after living in Austria for 79 years.
Quote: “Civilized society is perpetually menaced with disintegration through this primary hostility of men towards one another.”

5. Henry Kissinger
Profession: 56th U.S. Secretary of State
Country of Origin: Germany
Country of Asylum: U.S.
Backstory: Kissinger did not publicly share much information about his experience as a refugee. However, it is known that Kissinger fled with this family to the U.S., escaping the Nazi regime in his homeland of Germany. Dr. Kissinger became a U.S. citizen in 1938 at age 15.
Quote: “When you see the mass exodus of people in war situations, or in genocidal situations, that magnifies my personal experience. But I think my personal experience creates an understanding and, I like to think, a sense of obligation to being sympathetic and supportive. So for all of these reasons I think helping refugees is something this country must do.”

– Blythe Riggan

Sources: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, History, Huffington Post, BrainyQuote, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Nobel Prize, International Rescue Committee
Photo: Colombo Telegraph

World Refugee Day
If the current refugees made up their own country, it would be the 26th largest in the world.

Commemorating World Refugee Day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated that there are currently 51.2 million asylum-seekers, internally displaced people and refugees worldwide.

The United Nations said that over 50 million people, an increase of six million from previous years, were forced from their homes by the end of 2013, which surpasses World War II peak numbers. Tensions in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Syria have caused the increase, but the figure is expected to rise even further as the situation in Iraq worsens.

Currently, there are 1.2 million people searching for asylum, 33.3 million internally displaced people and 16.7 million refugees worldwide. About half of these uprooted people are children.

This has put much pressure on UNHCR and other efforts to provide refugees with food, education and healthcare. During 2013, conflict and violence drove about 32,200 people every day out of their homes, as opposed to 14,200 in 2011 and 23,400 in 2012.

In a report on the refugee crisis, UNHCR stressed the problems that host countries are having dealing with the flood of refugees. 86 percent of refugees worldwide find shelter in developing countries, which causes increased strain on those countries’ resources.

Syria was once the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country. The current Syrian conflict has moved it to the second largest refugee-producing country. Neighbors of Syria, such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, are now facing problems on how to deal with this influx of refugees. Jordan, which has been receiving up to a thousand refugees a day, has been attempting to decelerate the wave of refugees across its border, with little luck.

The current crisis in Iraq is also a major problem. UNICEF recently raised Iraq’s crisis to a level three humanitarian disaster, the most severe label. U.N. officials said they were rushing to prepare for the projected 1.5 million displaced people. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres stated that humanitarians can only do so much, and solutions lie within political systems.

“We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict,” he said. “Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, the alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue.”

— Colleen Moore

Sources: Kuwait Times
Photo: Flickr