Each year on the 20th of June, the United Nations and civic groups around the world mark World Refugee Day. World Refugee Day is a day to reflect on the circumstances of the 15.4 million refugees, and 28.8 million internally displaced persons around the world.
Yesterday, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, published its Global Trends Report for 2012, which looks in closer detail at those displacement figures around the world. It shows that there is a new refugee or an internally displaced person every 4.1 seconds. The UNHCR report has found that more people were forced to flee last year, than in any year in the last 18 years. War remains the dominant cause. 55% of all refugees listed in UNHCR’s report, come from just 5 war-effected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan. Children make up 46% of refugees; in numbers, that’s more than 7 million children around the world. 2013 has been a year like no other for refugees; in the Middle East we have witnessed a staggering exodus of over 1.6 million people fleeing from Syria. Movement of a proportion not witnessed since the last world war. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most horrific conflicts continues, displacing over 2 million people from the shelter of their homes, these are only two such examples. Upheaval on such a global scale can be overwhelming and much more needs to be done. Countries, such as Ireland, have provided protection to thousands of refugees in the recent decades.
Aileen Lee had the opportunity recently to meet two such refugees, Hassan Faramarz from Iran, now living in Ennis Co Clare, and Ludmila Burcovschi from Moldova who lives in Ballyhaunis Co Mayo. Their paths first crossed through Aileen Lee’s work with UNHCR as their external relations intern. Through her work she has encountered many refugees and has enjoyed so many inspiring conversations with them.
People like you and me, who call Ireland home, whose life experiences add such a wonderful colour and texture to the society of this rain-soaked country in Western Europe.
This Programme is produced by Aileen Lee, Dublin UNHCR Office, with the technical assistance of Pablo Hidalgo and Inaki Irigoien, Near FM.