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Hiraeth

Approximately 82.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are nearly 26.4 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 12 million stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and lack access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment, and freedom of movement. At a time when 1 in every 95 people on earth has fled their home as a result of conflict or prosecution, the word ‘Hiraeth’ is best suited for.


Excluding the 5 million Palestenians who are registered under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, not UNHCR. 12% of the global population is old yet only 4% of refugees are old, which means most of the refugees are as young as me and my friends. 40% of the refugees are children.

68% of the refugees come from 5 countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar. Syrians are the biggest refugee groups in the world. They are drowning at the hands of smugglers; they are being placed in sprawling camps with little access to services; and they are even being robbed by the mafia. Everywhere in the world, refugees are amassing at faster rates than ever before. In fact, there have never been more forcibly-displaced people at any point in human history.

But too often, it seems, the focus is placed on where refugees are running to, and not what they’re running from.

So, who is a refugee?


The definition of a “refugee” has changed over the years from Protestants fleeing religious persecution in France in the 17th century to Syrians fleeing bombs in the 21st century.


A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee faces discrimination for reasons like race, religion, nationality, political opinion. They can’t return home or are afraid to do so. War, tribal and religious violence are the leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.


The term “refugee” was not officially defined in international law until the 1951 Refugee Convention. This came in response to the first great refugee crisis of the 20th century, the Second World War which forcefully displaced around 50 million worldwide.

Where do they come from and where do they go?


Here I’ll talk numbers. These numbers are enough to make you realise that the refugee crisis that the world is facing is quite serious, especially for the developing countries as all the burden falls on their shoulders.


6.6 million refugees are Syrians, 4.5 million refugees are Venezuelans, 2.7 million refugees are Afghan, 2.2 million refugees are from South Sudan and 1.1 refugees are from Myanmar. 2/3rd of the people displaced across borders came from these countries. Now where do they go?

Did you know that Turkey homes 3.6 million refugees which is actually the highest number of refugees that any country gives shelter to? Most of the refugees in Turkey are the Syrian people who fled the deadly civil wars of Syria. Germany houses 1.1 million refugees which makes it the only country in Europe to house so many people in need. Pakistan carries a burden of 1.4 million refugees most of whom are the Afghans who fled due to different insecurities in their homeland. With almost 11% of Afghans returning to Afghanistan in 2019 still 1.4 million stay back outside their country as they are afraid of returning back to the havoc they escaped. Uganda hosts 2.2 million refugees which is highest in Africa followed by DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). Colombia houses 1.8 million Venezuelans.

The numbers that I said were the ones that were actually reported and recorded. Now just imagine there are 4.5 million Venezuelans who have fled due to political unrest, food and water insecurity, human trafficking and many more problems. Of these only 1.8 million are recorded to be in Colombia. What about others? Many Syrians are in refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Most of them are registered but some aren’t. So, what about those?

The reasons why these people flee their countries.

· Religious, National, Social, Racial and political persecution-

The most common reason people become refugees is persecution which can take place in many forms: religious, national, social, racial, or political. Around the world, religious refugees are everywhere: from Muslims persecuted in Myanmar to Christians in the Central African Republic to Hindus in Pakistan.

· War-

Most refugees have been the direct or indirect product of war. About 5.6 million Syrians are refugees, and another 6.2 million people are displaced within Syria. But before Syria, refugees have fled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in droves in the early 1980s, 90s and 2000s. Afghanistan, notably, had the highest number of refugees among any country in the world for more than two decades between 1981 and 2013, before being overtaken by Syria that year.

· Human rights violations-

Exploitation of human rights in many African countries and in the Middle East also played a role in millions being forcibly displaced which later led them to become refugees. Hunger is also a very big problem and when it gets support from climate changes and pandemics it's horrifying.

The problems that are faced by the refugees in their countries and in foreign land.

The people in refugee camps face many problems, especially children and women. Women and children face gender biased discrimination. The most common forms of gender biased discrimination include rape and other forms of sexual assault, human trafficking, and forced sex, often in exchange for passage to nearby countries via human smugglers. Lack of basic medical facilities, hygiene facilities result in dehydration, malaria, diarrhoea. Malnutrition is a very common problem faced by children. People are affected both physically and mentally.

So, how can this refugee crisis be handled?

Taking a more culturally-sensitive approach would help: When it comes to shelter and space, begin to build some communities based on people's origins. Most importantly, provide a safe space for unaccompanied children, women and others who need additional protection and support. Introduce training so refugees can acquire new skills and invest in the future of people. The camps designed as settlements, rather than just emergency-response sites, must become incubators for change and human development. They must allow for initiative, business development, entrepreneurship and learning. Deploy social caseworkers to talk, train and develop peer support - understand what the individual stories are and show people how to help each other. This way, we can help everyone to regain their identity and dignity which many have lost on their journey.


“PEOPLE ARE DYING WHILE GOVERNMENTS SPEND BILLIONS ON BORDER CONTROL”.


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