Today is World Refugee Day, a day created by the United Nations in 2000 to bring awareness to the more than 45 million people who have been displaced internally or across borders from their homes forcibly. Based on numbers released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees a person becomes a refugee, loses everything and is forced to flee every minute. In Syria where a civil war is ravaging the country, there are now over 750,000 refugees and 1.1 million new refugees worldwide this year alone.
“There are now more than 45 million refugees and internally displaced people – the highest level in nearly 20 years,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a special message for the day. “Figures give only a glimpse of this enormous human tragedy. Every day, conflict tears apart the lives of thousands of families. They may be forced to leave loved ones behind or become separated in the chaos of war.”
The graph below from Thomson Reuters shows the number of refugees overall as well as the countries that have the largest number of refugees. The infographic also shows the countries where most refugees head once they leave their homelands.
On Monday at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland President Obama pledged increased monetary resources to aid Syrian refugees. A total of $300 million will go towards humanitarian efforts in Syria as well as neighboring Lebanon. Nearly 900,00 children are refugees in Syria according to UNICEF. In 2012 6 million internally displaced people lived in the Middle East and North Africa. Most refugees live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Today events commemorating World Refugee Day took place all over the world from concerts to art exhibits. Click here to learn more about World Refuge Day.
Here is a woman in the Abu-Shouk camp with her World Food Programme voucher. Vouchers are a stark contrast to direct food aid and distribution, a food assistance program the World Food Programme is moving away from in the region. People have more choice over the variety of food they buy for their families and they have more dignity purchasing the food. Furthermore, the merchants and traders, of whom many are women, also benefit from the voucher system by bolstering the local economy.
The World Food Programme will feed close to 3.3 million people in the Darfur region this year according to global news agency, AFP.