What is the Family doing in response to the widening crisis of refugees? Sr. Margaret O’Dwyer, DC, informs us that they are involved at the United nations with World Refugee Day June 20.
Humanity is experiencing its worst refugee crisis since World War II. By illustration, over 48,000 persons have been brought to Italy alone this year after being picked up from boats attempting to cross from Libya. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that the number of people needing resettlement in 2017 will surpass 1.19 million. More than one million refugees were submitted by UNHCR to over 30 resettlement countries in the past decade, according to its Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2017 report, released Monday in Geneva.
World Refugee Day, which is observed Monday, June 20, will recognize the courage, strength, and perseverance of millions of persons fleeing dangers such as war, violence, hatred, persecution, discrimination, and natural disasters. The Geneva Refugee Convention of 1951 defines a refugee as a person who has fled from his or her country because of “well-founded fear of being persecuted,” often for reasons of race, religion, nationality or political opinion.
The global population of refugees, internally displaced people and asylum seekers reached a record 59.5 million at the end of 2014 and has continued to rise, according to UNHCR. Of that figure, nearly 20 million were refugees. UNHCR statistics reflect that an average of 42,500 people is forcibly displaced every day.
A #WithRefugees campaign now underway in conjunction with World Refugee Day is calling upon governments to act with solidarity and shared responsibility regarding refugees. The campaign’s petition will be delivered to UN Headquarters in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly Meeting September 19th.
The petition asks governments to address three specific issues:
- Ensure every refugee child gets an education.
- Ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
- Ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.
You can support the effort by going to www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/us/ Actress Cate Blanchett, The United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Good Will Ambassador, is among the petition’s signers.
The Syrian Arab Republic was the largest source country of refugees with a total refugee population of 4.2 million, according to UNHCR. Syrians remained the main group of asylum-seekers worldwide, with 114,500 new asylum applications registered during the first six months of 2015. Afghanistan (2.6 million) has remained the second-largest source country for refugees with Somalia (1.1 million) placing both as the third largest source country worldwide and as the largest refugee producing country in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Sudan is the fourth-largest source country of refugees worldwide (744,100 by the end of June 2015).
“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me,” comments UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.” They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.”
According to Oxfam, the world’s five richest countries have taken in only 938,231 persons, or 4.8 per cent of the world’s 19.5 million refugees, even though they claim over one-half of the cumulative global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Those countries include the US, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Meanwhile, five developing nations have taken in the most refugees. Together, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories host a staggering 50 percent of the world’s refugees, even though they make up less than 1.5 percent of the world’s economy (Oxfam).
Pope Francis has spoken on the plight of refugees on numerous occasions. On May 24, 2013, he said,
“I would like to ask you all to see a ray of hope as well in the eyes and hearts of refugees and of those who have been forcibly displaced. A hope that is expressed in expectations for the future, in the desire for friendship, in the wish to participate in the host society, also through learning the language, access to employment and the education of children. I admire the courage of those who hope to be able gradually to resume a normal life, waiting for joy and love to return to brighten their existence. We can and must all nourish this hope!”
In an unprecedented move, the International Olympic Committee announced, June 3, that it will send a team of refugees to the 2016 Games in Rio.
The United Nations General Assembly on December 4, 2000, approved the annual observance of World Refugee Day on June 20, beginning in 2001. In its resolution, the General Assembly pointed out that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.