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20 juni 2018
World Refugee Day 2018

World refugee day 2018

On June 20th, World Refugee Day was organised to raise money and awareness for donations to refugee and aid groups. Around the globe, events were organised to do so. With a new record of 68.5 million people being forcibly displaced, the theme for the 2018 World Refugee Day was "Now More Than Ever, We Need to Stand with Refugees". Never has the world seen such an enormous group of people on the move due to war, violence and persecution. 

record 68.5 million forcibly displaced

The theme "Now More Than Ever, We Need to Stand with Refugees" is usually honoured by donating to refugee and migrant aid groups, participating in organised events to raise money, and raising awareness of the desperate situation faced by refugees. The UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) reported in their Global Trends of Forced Displacement 2017 that 68.5 million people had to flee, of which around 25% were forced to move just during last year. That averaged to someone becoming a refugee just last year in every two seconds of the day. 

Palestinian refugees in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip

U.N. high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said: "Now, more than ever, taking care of refugees must be a global – and shared – responsibility. It’s time to do things differently." He added: "On World Refugee Day, it’s time to recognize their humanity in action – and challenge ourselves, and others, to join them – in receiving and supporting refugees in our schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces. This is where solidarity starts –- with all of us."

Filippo Grandi: "No one becomes a refugee by choice, but the rest of us can have a choice about how we help”. 

record Numbers

68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. 25.4 million are recognised refugees, 40.0 million are internally displaced and 3.1 million are seeking asylum. Just in 2017, an estimated 16.2 million have been newly displaced, including 11.8 million displaced within the borders of their own country, while 4.4 million are newly displaced refugees and new asylum-seekers.

LARGEST HOSTS - Turkey hosts the largest amount of refugees with 3.5 million people, most of which are Syrian refugees. Pakistan and Uganda hosted 1.4 million, while Lebanon, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Germany, Bangladesh and Sudan all had between 906.600 and 998.900 refugees in their countries. Most of the refugees came from just five countries. Lebanon hosted the largest number of refugees relative to its own population. 1 in 6 people in Lebanon were refugee in 2017. Jordan (1 in 14) and Turkey (1 in 23) follow Lebanon. When the Palestine refugees are counted along according to the UNRWA's mandate, the figures rise to the staggering 1 in 4 in Lebanon and 1 in 3 in Jordan. 

68% REFUGEES FROM FIVE COUNTRIES -  Syrian Arab Republic tops the list with 6.3 million refugees, followed by Afghanistan (2.6 million), South Sudan (2.4 million), Myanmar (1.2 million) and Somalia (986.400). The ongoing conflict in Syria and new conflicts in Congo caused great increases, while Afghanistan as a source country not only had a large increase in refugees, but also overtakes Syria as the top source of asylum applications. 

Rohingya refugees from Myanmar carry baskets of dried out mud from the riverbed to help raise the ground level of the camp in preparation for monsoon season in Shamlapur refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh, March 24, 2018

CHILDREN - More than half of all refugees (52%) are children, below the age of 18. Over 2017, 173.800 children have been unaccompanied or separated by their parents. This is a conservative estimated by taking into account the children who sought asylum on an individual basis and already recognised refugees. The UNHCR report came out just a week after the horrific reports of the zero-tolerance immagration policy of the USA where children are seperated from their parents at the border. 

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES - While we tend to think otherwise sometimes, developing countries actually host the largest amounts of refugees under UNHCR's mandate (not counting Palestinians). 85% of all refugees (16.9 million out of 19.9 million) are in these developing countries, while the least developed countries provide asylum to a growing proportion, totaling 6.7 million. Of the top ten major host countries of refugees, Germany is the only developed country in the list (#6), while countries like Ethiopia, Uganda and Jordan are also in there. 

NEW REFUGEES - The record numbers of 44.400 people leaving their homes every day, are fuelled by the new crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rohingya refugees in Myanmar, while the conflict in Syria is ongoing. Just from these three countries, 2.9 million have been newly displaced last year. 

ASYLUM SEEKERS - The Netherlands is not a main country of asylum for new asylum-seekers across 2017, while the USA received the highest amount of asylum applications (331.700). Germany (198.300) and Italy (136.500) follow the USA. Turkey received 126.100 new claims, exluding the 680.900 Syrians protected under Turkey's Temporary Protection Regulation. 

Disembarked migrants from the Italian Coast Guard vessel after a rescue operation of migrants and refugees at sea - June 19, 2018


Across the globe, people held protests against anti immigration and refugee policies, while others inspired and helped refugees and people to help them. In a message to participants at a lunch organized by Caritas Rome, Pope Francis on Tuesday highlighted the importance and the value of “sharing” spaces, events and simple things like a meal, in order to overcome barriers and nurture feelings of brotherhood. Renewing his full support and backing for the Caritas “Share the Journey” campaign, Pope Francis has invited all men and women of goodwill to celebrate World Refugee Day by sharing a meal with a migrant or a refugee.

Across the USA, in the midst of the anti refugee policies, 18 major refugee events were held in honour of World Refugee Day 2018. Amidst all the negativity, there is still hope, due to more awareness and 16 countries setting up new ways of dealing with refugee crises.

In Dutch politics there was also awareness on World Refugee Day. The Labor Party (Partij van de Arbeid) showed appreciation at a meeting to figure out ways to help refugees better in the future. 

Picture by Mikal Tseggai (Twitter) on international meeting in Brussel