Today, June 20, 2014, marks the 14th annual World Refugee Day. World Refugee Day brings awareness to the struggles that refugees grapple with on a daily basis and strives to end the dehumanization of displaced persons and change the direction of refugee discourse. Today, we recognize those forced to flee their homes and request global attention to the ongoing need to support refugees around the world.
The number of refugees worldwide is increasing, but practical solutions for this growing crisis are seriously lacking. There are currently 45.2 million displaced people in the world, including 15.4 million people classified as refugees. More than 80% of refugees are in developing countries, with little access to socioeconomic mobility or viable learning and income-generating opportunities. Global refugee repatriation rates have declined in recent years, while the rates of population displacement – approximately 23,000 a day – have nearly doubled over the last 10 years.
Each year, the United Nations, in partnership with civic groups around the world, selects a theme for World Refugee Day. The theme of this year’s World Refugee Day, “1 family torn apart by war is too many”, reminds the international community of the vulnerability of families in times of intractable conflict. We are reminded of how violence can impact the lives of displaced persons – mothers, daughters, fathers, and sons – and how often basic privileges such as safety, shelter, food and water, are taken for granted.
OLE has been working to build leadership capacity and provide high-quality learning opportunities in the refugee communities of Dadaab, Kenya – the largest refugee settlement in the world. Dadaab was created in 1992 following the Somali Civil War. Those resettled in the Dadaab refugee camps have been there for over two decades. Many were born in the Dadaab refugee community and lack the basic education needed to thrive. Dadaab has evolved from a temporary shelter to escape a devastating and protracted civil war, to a permanent home for hundreds of thousands of individuals and families. This is a home that restricts residents’ movement, limits their access to employment opportunities, lacks basic services, and struggles with security issues.
Today in Dadaab, OLE’s talented team of six Somali Coaches and Tech Geniuses will provide the official World Refugee Day t-shirt to UNHCR partners and Dadaab residents alike. The OLE team will also conduct interviews of refugees, asking them to share their story with the world, in an effort to continue to raise awareness of the situation that refugees face on a daily basis.