This situation of refugees around the world is far from pretty or joyful but to pause a moment and take stock of the reality is important… and meaningful. That’s what World Refugee Day is for. To remember that every 4 seconds in 2012, another person faced a forced displacement, fleeing to save their life from disaster, famine, war, and violence. The plight of refugees is at its worst since 1994. The situation of refugees is this: In fleeing to a neighboring country, they move into disease-ridden camps where children and adults alike die from epidemics, where rape and sexual violence can be common, and people languish for years. I recently heard from one of our Bhutanese refugees at the International Institute that he stayed in a squalid camp for 17 years before achieving resettlement in the United States. One famous case is the “’72 Burundian group” who fled Burundi in 1972 and were not resettled until a couple years ago, in a classic situation of “refugee warehousing” where groups of people are neglected in camps, even confined, and left for years.
The problem is this: There are 45.2 million refugees displaced globally. Of these 45.2 million, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has three solutions to their displacement. Their first choice is to repatriate those refugees back into their own country. Most refugees themselves wish this were possible. If the world were different, I would go home, they say. The second choice is to integrate them in the country into which they have fled. It might surprise you to know that the poorest countries are often more welcoming to refugees than the richest. Right now, 80% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries. Finally, if neither of the first two options are possible, due to persecution in their home country and they are unwelcome in the country to which they have fled, they are eligible for resettlement. Of 45.2 million refugees, about 800,000 are eligible for resettlement, yet there are only 80,000 spaces allocated worldwide for refugees in resettlement countries. Hence, the years and years spent in dire camp conditions (for example, flooded floors), awaiting help. 800,000 people vying for 80,000 spots, in situations of dire need because of persecution, disaster, and war in their own country.
That is the the situation of a refugee. To read more and help, click here.