With global population displacement at an all-time high, the refugee crisis remains a topic of the utmost concern amongst the humanitarian community. Helping refugees and displaced people also continues to be a core part of Malteser International’s mission. Here, Secretary General Ingo Radtke explains our approach to tackling the challenges posed by this huge task.Read more
Refugees and population displacement
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.6 million people were forced to leave their homes at the end of 2016 as a consequence of war, persecution, or climate change. Among them, 40.3 million remain in their own countries as so-called Internally Displaced Persons - or IDPs. In 2016 alone, 10.3 million people were newly displaced as a result of conflict or persecution. Population displacement on this scale has not been seen since the end of the Second World War. An end to the movement is not in sight - on the contrary, experts believe that the effects of climate change, armed conflict, and social inequality will cause the situation to worsen. The Syrian Civil War is now in its sixth year, and during these years, several other conflicts in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South America have led to new displacements.
UNHCR's statistics show that Syrians continue to be the largest forcibly displaced population with 6.3 million internally-displaced persons, and 5.5 million refugees who have managed to flee the country. According to these statistics, 55 percent of the world’s displaced people come from three countries – Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Syria. Due to ongoing violent conflict in the country, South Sudan’s refugee population was the fastest growing in 2016. The refugee population grew by 85 percent during the year as 1.4 million people sought refuge in neighboring Uganda and the DR Congo – countries that are themselves in need of humanitarian assistance.
In cooperation with our local partner organization, Malteser International has been providing cross-border medical aid for Syrians affected by the civil war since summer 2012. This includes aid for Syrian refugees in neighboring Lebanon and Turkey, as well as internally displaced Syrians who are either unable or unwilling to leave their homeland, while we have recently expanded our emergency relief projects for refugees and displaced persons in northern Iraq. Just as the refugee crisis is not limited to the Middle East, our aid for refugees and displaced people encompasses a range of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, including Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar, Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congo, Colombia, and Ukraine, where we work to provide an improved standard of health and quality of life for people who have been forced to flee their homes.
Refugees: Faces of a crisis
Every day, our work brings us into contact with people who tell amazing stories of the hope, tragedy, disappointment, and kindness that they have experienced as refugees or displaced people. You can read some of these here:
Yasmine is only 9 years old, but has lost so much in her life – her father, her home, and the sight in one eye. Born in the Syrian city of Homs, she has lived through war and has been on the run for most of her young life. She was seven years old when she survived a bombing which killed her father. Along with her mother and two brothers, she fled to neighboring Turkey.
She tells us her story.