By Erin Corbett
Photo courtesy of The Guardian
June 20, 2013 was World Refugee Day, a day dedicated to honoring those who have been forced to leave their countries due to fears of persecution, conflict, and violence. Likewise, the G8 summit is a forum for 8 global giants (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the US, and the UK) to discuss global challenges and potential solutions to move forward. This year’s forum (6/17-6/18) focused especially on the Syrian conflict and what to do with the Assad regime.
The crisis in Syria, of course, brings the issue of refugees to the attention of the world, and with good reason, as there are now over 1.5 million refugees that have fled the country. Unfortunately, the crisis in Syria is not the only cause for such a large number of refugees, which is an issue that is mirrored around the globe every day.
There are around 15 million refugees in the world today, and around 28 million Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs). Being a refugee does not end once individuals and families flee their homes. It is a constant struggle and “the average refugee spends 12 years in camps and often has to endure crowded, unfamiliar and sometimes unsafe surroundings on a daily basis,” states The Guardian.
While it is important to honor and admire these people for their strength as survivors, it is also a reminder that too many people have been forced to live in communities with little hope of returning home or of starting a new life elsewhere. World Refugee Day is a reminder of the urgent need to bring displacement to an end as soon as possible.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has done a great job of responding to the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees around the world. However, governments, development actors, and citizens and organizations in both the public and private sector need to come together now to continue efforts in finding solutions for people who have been displaced. For a family or an individual to be forced to leave their country, their home, their life, and to have to live in a tent in a refugee camp in uncertainty and in the “unknown” is unacceptable and we have failed to address these global problems.
It is not only important to continue to find solutions for those who have been displaced already, but it is imperative that the international community open its eyes to the horrific violence that continues to force people to flee their communities and countries every day.
Though World Refugee Day is a day to honor and admire the strength of both refugees and IDPs, it is also a time to remember that we, as an international community, have a job “to mobilize our collective outrage that 28,000 people are being uprooted from their homes every day and that millions continue to live in limbo,” states Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement.
While June 20, 2013 was a day to honor and admire these struggles, it was also a reminder of our duty to honor these people by preventing and resolving the conflicts that uproot far too many people in the world on a daily basis.
World Refugee Day may be just another day for some, but for millions struggling around the world, World Refugee Day is every day.