Monday, June 20, 2016

World Refugee Day

Today is World Refugee Day and every year June 20 gives us a chance to focus the world's attention on:

  • the plight of refugees and displaced people around the world
  • the causes of their exile
  • their resolve and will to survive, and
  • how they contribute to Canada.
  • Canada is committed to helping refugees and has one of the largest refugee resettlement programs in the world. 

Developing both an awareness and understanding of the complex nature of the refugee, due to many factors and moving parts, is important toward acknowledging the international community's role in aiding refugees today.  Above all else, it is vital expose the Calgary community to the definition of the term "refugee," which according to international law is specifically someone who is fleeing armed conflict or persecution and has sought refuge across international borders.

The UNHCR puts it plainly: "These are people for whom denial of asylum has potentially deadly consequences."

Misunderstanding the term can have dangerous consequences for refugees, and often gives way to political debate and xenophobia in place of relief during a humanitarian crisis.

In terms of the Syrian refugees, millions are in fact displaced in neighbouring Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, where massive populations are living in camps near the borders. The daily influx puts incredible strains on these host countries and their resources, especially when it's a relatively small country like Lebanon, which currently has about 1.2 million Syrian refugees, while the country itself only has a population of about 4.5 million. The 25,000 refugees absorbed into 35 million here in Canada pales by comparison.

South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, and the Central African Republic are all also in  state of humanitarian crisis: emergencies around the world today that threaten millions of refugees. Families and children forced to flee their homes arrive in refugee camps daily with little more than the clothes on their back. As Canada resettles refugees to save lives and provide stability to people fleeing persecution who have no hope of relief CIES will continue to its part and asks everyone to do whatever they can, no matter how big or small, to contribute.

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