Seventeen years honoring World Refugee Day: Where are we now?
Every year today, on World Refugee Day, at NRS International we strive to raise public awareness about the gravity and complexity of the global refugee situation. As a supplier of humanitarian aid essentials, we acknowledge how critical it is to understand the new challenges and dimensions facing the international community. In spite of all the concerted efforts to resolve the refugee crisis, the question ‘where are we now’ is very relevant – and the global call to action has never been stronger.
Today, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency released its annual Global Trends report which states 68.5 million people were displaced as of the end of 2017. The newly released figure includes 25.4 million refugees escaping conflict and persecution, 40.3 million internally displaced people and 3.1 million asylum seekers.
In 2017, refugee population globally was 2.9 million people higher than the previous year. According to the UNHCR, this is the most significant increase the agency has seen in a single year.
Inside Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, during our field assessment visit in October 2017
Knowing the history of it
20 June in 2001 was the first time World Refugee Day was held, a day to commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees. The date was introduced by the UN General Assembly to highlight the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees – a multilateral treaty that defines who is a refugee and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum.
A new set of commitments to protect displaced people was introduced in 2016, when the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants was signed. The document assigned the UN Refugees (UNHCR) the task of developing a ‘global compact on refugees’, which final text should be presented at the end of 2018 during the UN General Assembly.
According to the UNHCR report, one in every 110 persons is someone displaced. Today’s commemorations focus on raising awareness towards this unacceptable statistic, through sharing the deeply moving stories of refugee journeys, art exhibitions, and sports events. Aid agencies leverage the full power social media, virtual reality and visual communication to build engaging relations with donors and the general public and we suggest you visit the #WithRefugees campaign page.
The objective is to create empathy, understanding and a connection between the refugees and their host communities and the general public. In other words, to stand with refugees. The Syrian refugee crisis and mass migrations to Europe in 2015-2016 have brought the subject back to the headlines, but the reality is that as long as we face armed conflicts and natural disasters, populations worldwide will be vulnerable to displacement.
So where are we on tackling the refugee crisis globally?
The dire situation has propelled the international humanitarian community to develop different approaches to implementing solutions long term. The refugee realities forced key players to look differently at solving the issues at hand. The Syrian crisis has led to a new response, which focusses on inclusion, jobs and education, rather than just the supply of vital relief items to enclosed camps.
Faced with the most recent statistics, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, reinforces the need for new and more comprehensive approach ‘so countries and communities aren’t left dealing with this alone’. He pleads to all countries to support adoption of the new ‘global compact on refugees’ at the upcoming UN General Assembly this year.
The UN ‘global compact on refugees’ key objectives are to ease the pressure on host countries, to enhance refugee self-reliance, to expand access to third-country solutions, and lastly to support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity. All long-term objectives, going deeper and beyond aid.
Role of suppliers in the humanitarian community
NRS International supports the current efforts in creating new approaches and better policies to address the global refugee crisis. As a supplier to the humanitarian and development sector for over 40 years, we always keep the beneficiary in mind when developing our relief items. We understand our products should provide safety and comfort to families in a moment of distress, but that their lives are not to be reduced to that situation. Along with our goal to grow our business, the duty of providing high quality, fit-for-purpose products in a timely manner has always been our top priority.
How we support World Refugee Day
- NRS International kicks off #LoveCoats project on World Refugee Day to empower refugee girls through fashion and design
- Survey: UAE residents are true humanitarians at heart
- NRS International’s charity and DIHAD support orphaned refugees through ‘Fly For Peace’ campaign
This year we will release our annual campaign on World Peace Day, September 19, when we will launch a project focused on the ‘upcycling’ of offcuts from our blanket production.
We would also like to use this opportunity to commend our clients: the international agencies, governments, and NGOs, for their tireless work to provide displaced people, refugees or not, with relief items. As suppliers, we see first-hand all the effort organizations – many times unstaffed and unfunded – put into procurement and shipment of blankets, tents and shelters to people in need.
What you can do on World Refugee Day
- Get informed: Did you know Africa and the Middle East host 56% of the world’s displaced people? Click here for more information.
- Sign the #WithRefugees Petition.
- Donate to UNHCR.
- Call on your local community and your employer to action: there might be refugee families or forcibly displaced people in your area who would benefit from educational programs and local job opportunities.
- Learn their stories: spend a day with a refugee from around the world or watch TEDx event hosted at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.