Today, June 20th, is World Refugee Day. This day honors the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threats of persecution, conflict, and violence, as well as the people who have dedicated their lives to helping them.
According to the United Nations, the 2010 Global Trends report shows that 43.7 million people are now displaced worldwide – roughly equaling the entire populations of Colombia or South Korea, or of Scandinavia and Sri Lanka combined.
Within this total are 15.4 million refugees (10.55 million under UNHCR's care and 4.82 million registered with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), 27.5 million people displaced within their own country by conflict, and nearly 850,000 asylum-seekers, nearly one fifth of them in South Africa alone.
Many of the world's poorest countries are hosting huge refugee populations, both in absolute terms and in relation to the size of their economies. Pakistan, Iran, and Syria have the largest refugee populations at 1.9 million, 1.1 million, and 1 million respectively.
Today is a day when everyone should be made aware of these facts and learn what they can do to help. The UN Refugee Agency has the 'Do 1 Thing' campaign, where you can donate to help refugees around the world.
The World Refugee Day website has a great Take Action page. It provides ideas and suggestions of activities that everyone should do in order to take part in World Refugee Day. The website also has Survivor Stories that give a first hand look at what life is like as a refugee. The stories are both heart-breaking and inspiring.
What are YOU going to DO for World Refugee Day?