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On World Refugee Day, new figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reveal that the number of displaced people globally has hit a record high:
The report, entitled Global Trends, noted that on average 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier, when six people fled every 60 seconds.
The detailed study, which tracks forced displacement worldwide based on data from governments, partner agencies and UNHCR’s own reporting, found a total 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier.
“To put it in perspective,” notes the report, “the tally is greater than the population of the United Kingdom – or of Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined.”
“It is made up of 3.2 million people in industrialized countries who, at the end of 2015, were awaiting decisions on asylum – the largest total UNHCR has ever recorded.”
Tragically, children made up 51% of refugees in 2015. According to the report, many of these kids are fleeing terror and war separated from their parents, or are traveling alone.
“This global issue is playing out in stark terms in Europe,” writes Esther Yu-Hsi Lee. “The second half of 2015 saw a sharp increase in the number of refugees from war-torn countries desperately trying to reach Europe, often by traveling across the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.”
Tragically, 70% of drownings in 2015 occurred along this Mediterranean route.
Last September, “the Obama administration set a goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. over the coming year.” So far, only 2,800 of Syrian refugees have been resettled in the US to date.
In total, “more than 40,000 refugees who have been admitted to the United States so far in 2016,” with the largest numbers coming from from Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 20, 2016
But as HIAS notes, “at a time when the news is especially dark, filled with tragedy and hate and fear, it is good to be reminded that human kindness and decency can still be found—if you know where to look.”
In Canada, a group of Syrian refugees gathered what little belongings and cash they had together to donate to homeless victims of the devastating Fort McMurray fire.
“Canadians have provided us with everything and now we have a duty we must do,” one refugee wrote in Arabic on the group’s Facebook page. “Must help the people who lost their homes and everything in a fire (in) Oil City … Get ready, it’s time to fulfill.”
“We understand what they’re feeling,” said another refugee. “When you lose everything, you have to start from zero. You lose your memories, your items. It’s not easy. It’s something very sad. We can totally understand their feeling.”
In the United States, refugees are starting and expanding businesses, empowering their communities and neighbors through jobs and a thriving local economy.
Below, other messages from US and world leaders, world figures, humanitarian groups, and other organizations remind us of the importance of World Refugee Day, as well as remind us that these are human beings who have faced trauma and need to helped — not politicized by those seeking to score cheap points.
— Department of State (@StateDept) June 20, 2016
A guiding principle of the U.S. has always been to extend our generosity to world’s most vulnerable—let’s remember that on #WorldRefugeeDay.
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) June 20, 2016
— UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) June 20, 2016
Dear rich countries everywhere,
— Fusion (@Fusion) June 20, 2016
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2016
— Madeleine Albright (@madeleine) June 20, 2016
— Ruben Gallego (@RepRubenGallego) June 20, 2016
— UNITE HERE (@unitehere) June 20, 2016
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 20, 2016
— ILRC (@ILRC_SF) June 20, 2016
— KIND (@supportKIND) June 20, 2016
Jesus was a refugee #WorldRefugeeDay
— Al Gordon (@AlGordonTV) June 20, 2016