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 Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More