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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.