Today is World Refugee day. The aim of this day is to create awareness of the plight of forcibly displaced people throughout the world. It is also an opportunity to honor the courage, strength and determination of people forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence, and to recognize the contribution these refugees are making in their adopted environments.
In 2011, a record 800 000 people were forced to flee their homes and cross borders for survival. Worldwide, almost 44 million people are currently classed as refugees. It does not take a degree in mathematics to recognise that this is a shockingly high number – more than 0.5% of the world population. Of these, almost 80% are women and children.
People who become refugees are often forced to remain in refugee status for many years, often living in refugee camps or other temporary environments. The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, provides tents, shelter, supplies and life-saving services to refugees.
There are many things each of us can do to assist these humanitarian efforts. The most obvious and direct contribution is donating money or volunteering services via the UNHCR website. Alternatively, helping to organise local fund raising events in your community, or even just raising awareness either through physical events or online initiatives and social networking activities.
Refugees have no choice. You do.