News / Middle East

Numbers at 18-Yr. High as UN Observes World Refugee Day

Numbers at 18-Year High as UN Observes World Refugee Dayi
X
June 19, 2013 10:30 PM
Thursday is World Refugee Day - and the United Nations says the number of refugees worldwide is at its highest in 18 years, at over 45 million people. The Syrian conflict is a major driver behind the increase, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Henry Ridgwell
— Thursday is World Refugee Day - and the United Nations says the number of refugees worldwide is at its highest in 18 years, at over 45 million people. The Syrian conflict is a major driver behind the increase.

Four-year-old Shahad laughs and jokes with her older sister in their makeshift home. She appears a happy, young girl; but the scars and burn marks on her smiling face tell the story of her beginnings as a refugee.

In September 2012, her home near the Syrian city of Hama was destroyed.
 
Shahad’s father, Yehia, describes what he saw when he arrived at the house.

“We were pulling the wounded out from 10am until 3pm. Two of my children were killed,” he said.

Yehia took his two surviving daughters and fled to Lebanon.

Shahad has now become the face of the United Nations’ World Refugee Day, on Thursday, June 20.

But this one girl’s harrowing story is being repeated across Syria.

Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
x
Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
Antonio Guterres, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees is currently touring Syria’s neighbors, and visited Shahad’s new home city of Sidon in Lebanon Wednesday.

“Lebanon is facing an existential threat and needs and deserves massive support from the international community, it is absolutely essential that the wonderful generosity that we witness here in villages like these is met by the whole world,” Guterres said.

Fadi Harkura of analyst group Chatham House says there is resentment that the West is not doing more.

“About one million refugees in Lebanon and around half-a-million Syrian refugees in Jordan are putting enormous strain on the local resources, on the local services and that’s also causing some negative feeling,” Hakura said.

There are many crises that remain relatively ignored - like the refugees who have fled the violence in Mali, says Doctor Unni Krishnan, Head of Disaster Response at the global charity Plan International.

“Plan works in Burkina Faso where there are thousands of refugees today. And even when the funding is coming, it is extremely difficult to raise funds for some of the invisible needs like child protection, education for refugee children, and psycho-social care and support,” Krishnan said.

Worldwide Refugee Figures for 2012

  • 7.6 million people were displaced
  • 23,000 persons per day were forced to leave their homes
  • 35.8 million people were protected by the UNHCR
  • More than half the world's refugees came from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan
  • Women and girls accounted for 48% of the refugee population
The U.N. says developing countries - like Burkina Faso - host 85 percent of the world’s refugees. Krishnan says the youngest refugees sometimes are not even counted.

“Children who are born in refugee camps often live and they move on to the next generation, they move on to the generation after that. We have such incidences. So registering the birth and having that identity is crucial because that will allow them to access education, more choices in the future,” Krishnan said.

Fifty-five percent of all refugees come from five war-ravaged countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.

Back in Lebanon, Yahia still fears for his daughter’s future.

He says, "She has seen fighter planes, artillery, missiles. There is nothing she has not seen,” he said.

In Syria, the artillery and gunfire continue relentlessly. The U.N. estimates that 3.5 million people will have fled the country by the end of the year.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid