Refugees & Displaced People
Imagine… one day having to leave your home… and having nowhere to go.
Refugees are those of us who have left our homes or countries because of persecution or a “well founded” fear of persecution and are unable to return. We’re persecuted for many reasons – race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or holding a particular political opinion. And, in case you weren’t sure, an “asylum-seeker” is someone seeking to be recognised as a refugee and entitlement to international protection.
Whether internally displaced or in a foreign land, refugees often lack housing, food, water, community support, medical care and hygiene facilities - experiencing unsafe travel, family separation and ongoing mental trauma…
2010 UNHCR Global Trends report showed that 43.7 million people are now
displaced worldwide – roughly equaling the entire populations of South Korea.
Within this total are 15.4 million refugees, 27.5 million people displaced
within their own country by conflict, and nearly 850,000 asylum-seekers.
In Columbia over the past 15 years 3,600,000 - 5,200,000 people have been internally displaced due to violence. That is approximately 1/3 of the country’s
population. 75% of these are women and
Iran and Syria have the largest refugee populations at 1.9 million, 1.1 million
and 1 million respectively.
- 5.2 million IDPs remain displaced in Sudan, most recently 102,000 in the contested region of Abyei and 50,000
due to fighting in South Kordofan State.
In the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Lord’s
Resistance Army (LRA) and Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia
attacks have led to displacement,
abductions and looting throughout the country.
In March 2011, there were an estimated 1.7 million IDPs,
according to OCHA.
In addition to this group of almost 10 million displaced people, Palestinians are recognised by the UN to constitute the largest refugee population in the world, numbering 4.7 million. That’s more people than the entire population of Singapore. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has been set up to exclusively assist the unique situation that Palestinians face. They primarily live in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The insecurity of being displaced practically = homelessness, poverty, as well as limited or no access to education, food or safe drinking water. Displaced women and children are at higher risk of being kidnapped by human traffickers for the international sex trade. Children are vulnerable to being forcibly recruited as child soldiers by military organisations and by gangs who kidnap and sell children as slaves into the child labor market.
So what can we do to help those of us that had to leave our homes and family histories…?
What kind of relief can we contribute to ease this difficult and dangerous transition…?