Today, as we mark World Refugee Day, 25.4 million people across the world have been forced to flee their country to escape conflict or persecution.
25.4 million is more than five times the population of Ireland – who have had no choice but to give up their livelihoods, uproot their families and risk their lives to journey to another country just for a chance of survival. Usually to a country that is already struggling.
Shockingly 85% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries like Ethiopia and Uganda, where people, more than half of whom are children, face further poverty, hostility and instability.
A report by the UN's refugee agency released yesterday found that the number of refugees has hit a five year high at the end of 2017. From 2016, there has been an increase of 2.9 million refugees – the largest rise the UNHCR has ever seen in a single year.
In addition, UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report also reveals that there are 3.1 million asylum-seekers and another 40 million people are displaced within their own countries. In total, the number of displaced people has hit a record high in 2017 – 68.5 million people not knowing what the future will hold for them and their families, and if or when they will be able to return to their own land.
At Trócaire, we work in over twenty countries and displacement is a feature of life in almost all of them – from major conflict zones such as Syria and South Sudan, to small communities being evicted off their land to make way for big business in Central America.
Thanks to the generosity of the Irish public, we support hundreds of thousands of refugees and those who have been displaced across the world, to firstly, provide the basic necessities for survival such as food, safety, shelter and clean water, and secondly, to help them begin to rebuild their lives with access to education and healthcare, and opportunities to work to support their families. But our international leaders need to do more to stem the root causes of this crisis and support those forced to flee.
Today, as negotiations on the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) continue, we join with Caritas Europa to call on European governments to increase safe and legal pathways for refugees by expanding national resettlement programmes.
We also continue to call for greater diplomatic engagement to find a political solution to the refugee crisis and for commitments on humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement to be honoured by the Irish and EU governments.
On World refugee Day, it is important that we take time to recognise the courage of those forced to flee their homes and consider what more we can all do to help. Read more information on the refugee crisis and our work.