Every day should be World Refugee Day say advocates

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Iraqi father and child refugees
An Iraqi father pushes his child on a swing in a reception center in Europe. Image: B. Szandelszky/UNHCR

(WNN) Strasbourg, FRANCE, WESTERN EUROPE: As World Refugee Day is recognized around the globe on June 20th the creators of this special day, the United Nations, is bringing attention to issues surrounding 45.2 million people worldwide today who are suffering under forced displacement and the narrowing life options, as well as no home to call their own.

“Last year alone, someone was forced to abandon their home every four seconds,” outlined the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon today in a special statement made in honor of World Refugee Day.

A majority of refugees worldwide today suffer under discrimination. Women and girls can suffer also under extreme exploitation as some of the camps can be dangerous environments specific to females, who can suffer without adequate police protection, an act that can foster violence without impunity.

“Respect each other; love each other; are the most important things in everyone’s life,” reminded Mohammed Nabi Shekzadeh, a more lucky teenage refugee from Afghanistan now living in Sweden, as he sent off his message during a video campaign by the No Hate Speech Movement, sponsored by the Council of Europe. This movement is now documenting the refugee experience inside Europe. “…Enjoy your life. Respect each other having love [for] each other are the most important point in everyone’s life. Choose the best way and live like a human,” he continued in a special message made just for World Refugee Day.

To provide action to help the world on World Refugee Day the ‘No Hate Speech Movement,’ is now also on Facebook. This campaign seeks to bring global refugee youth together with other non-refugee youth worldwide in a pledge to stop hate speech against anyone considered different, especially refugees, migrants and the displaced.

Forced displacement is a devastating experience. It is the majority experience of much of the world’s global refugees as they flee from conflict, war and violence within their country. Crossing the border into another country is what officially makes someone a ‘refugee’ versus an IDP – Internally Displaced Person, who are those who flee from home but stay within their country’s borders.

Too many refugees who flee to other countries find they have little to no rights in a new country they hope to call home, including countries in Europe.

As paperless people without the protections of citizenship the displaced are often left with little to none of the human rights granted automatically to citizens inside the country of a refugee’s relocation.

Both refugees and IDPs worldwide are being recognized today by the United Nations. World Refugee Day is also honored by many other global human rights organizations including the Global Fund for Women, Human Rights First, IRC – International Rescue Committee, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders, ReliefWeb and many others.

“As victims of violence and persecution, refugees come to the United States to seek safety. But all too often they arrive traumatized, without knowledge of the U.S. Legal system including the asylum process.,” says global advocacy and human rights action organization Human Rights First.

The current and alarming rise in the numbers of those who have been forced to leave home is due mostly to events inside Syria, says the UN, as a massive 1.6 million people have been forced to leave the region since the Syrian conflict began.

One third of all Syrian girl refugees in Jordan are now being forced to marry as children, says UN Women, the UN global super-agency on women.

“War remains the dominant cause, with the crisis in Syria a leading instance of major displacement,” adds the UN Secretary General in his formal statement today. “More than half of all refugees listed in a new report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees come from just five war-affected countries:  Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.  Major new displacements have also been occurring in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

According to the most recent June 2013 trends report just released by the UN Refugee Agency “An estimated 7. 6 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, including 1.1 million new refugees – the highest number of new arrivals in one year since 1999. Another 6.5 million people were newly displaced within the borders of their countries – the second highest figure of the past ten years.”

Children are most often the greatest victims of displacement. Deplorable conditions in the camps are a breeding ground for disease, and children are most often the targets of these diseases, say the experts. Out of the millions charted by the UNHCR, close to half of those who have been counted by the UN Agency are children who are younger than 18-years-of-age.

Frustrations under ‘statelessness’ has also grown markedly for 2013 the report reveals, as 33 million people around the globe are now without a country, compared to 10 million listed in 2012.

The cost of displacement is a debilitating burden on host countries that often do not have the financial fortitude to provide for the wave of people who cross border regions, reminds the UN, as 81 percent of all host countries are developing countries today. The other nations are countries in the west, but these nations are not always asylum countries says Amnesty International.

“In recent years, European countries have stepped up border control measures in an attempt to prevent migrants and asylum-seekers from reaching Europe. Some of these measures have resulted in or contributed to serious human rights violations,” says Amnesty International that is hosting a current campaign focusing especially on refugee rights inside Europe.

“I am a young refugee. I grew up in the Netherlands from South Sudan,” says teen refugee Nicky Wako in her special message for the No Hate Speech Movement. “I realized from a very young age that being a young refugee has alot of stigma attached to it. But I’m not that stigma. I am Nicky. And I have hopes and dreams and aspirations and jokes and laughter and music and lots of silliness. And that’s me. The refugee part is just something I’ve gone through in life to be somewhere safe and secure. So I’d like to ask all of you guys when you meet a young refugee, be nice and ask them, ‘Who are you?'”

Safety, respect, dignity and empowerment through education are all important steps that refugee advocates are hoping to bring to the displaced worldwide. Awareness of the issues facing all migrants, refugees and the internally displaced is vital and life-changing, outlines advocates who are working in the field today.


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