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World Refugee Day 2018

The first World Refugee Day, held on June 20th, 2001, marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. Since then, World Refugee Day provides an opportunity to honor the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. The event also marks a key moment for the public to show support for people who have been forcibly displaced.

A record 68.5 million people around the world have had to flee their homes, and the need to help refugees has never been greater. Too often, refugees are thought of in the abstract. Today, on World Refugee Day, it is very important to remember that they are people like everyone else, and they deserve the same rights and protections.

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. We asked some of them a simple question: what are your dreams? You can read some of these here:




Refugees and displacement

The past decade has seen a substantial increase in the world’s forcibly displaced population. Every minute, 31 people around the world are forced to flee their homes. That amounts to 44,400 every day. To escape war, persecution, natural disasters, poverty and hunger, millions of people, they risk everything to find safety and security.

As of the most recent 2017 year-end data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of displaced people worldwide reached an all time high of 68.5 million - more than the population of the United Kindgom. This number includes 25.4 million refugees receiving protection outside of their home countries. However, the vast majority (40 million) are people who have been displaced within the borders of their own countries as so-called Internally Displaced Persons - or IDPs.

War and violence are the drivers of most of the displacements. The ongoing civil war in Syria accounts for the most refugees, with 12.6 million Syrians now displaced within or outside the country, but the increase in global population of forcibly displaced persons has also been fuelled by significant deterioration of the humanitarian conditions in several countries: Colombia has the second largest displaced population at 7.9 million people, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, about 4.4 million people were displaced as a result of violence in 2017, double the number from the previous year. New crises also arose in 2017. Violence in Myanmar sparked a mass exodus of members of the Rohingya ethnic group. Over the course of three months, 655,500 refugees had arrived in Bangladesh in what was termed the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis. 

A core part of our work at Malteser International is to enable and support comprehensive and durable solutions for refugees and displaced persons to allow them rebuild their lives and live in health and dignity.

In cooperation with our local partner organization, we have been providing cross-border medical aid for Syrians affected by the civil war since summer 2012. This includes aid for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries Lebanon and Turkey, as well as internally displaced Syrians who are either unable or unwilling to leave their homeland.

We have expanded our emergency relief projects for refugees and displaced persons in northern Iraq, and are supporting them in rebuilding their lives.

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 Bangladesh, Nigeria, 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.

Our approach: Help to survive and thrive

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.

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Syria’s War Children

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.

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