“The drastic images which make newsreels create the impression that people turn into refugees overnight. In my family’s experience, that isn’t true. Becoming a refugee is a gradual process, a bleaching out, a transition into a ghostly existence. With the exception of those born in refugee camps, every refugee used to have [another] life. It doesn’t matter whether you were a physician in Bosnia or a goat herder in the Congo: what matters is that a thousand little anchors once moored you to the world. Becoming a refugee means watching as those anchors are severed, one by one, until at last you’re floating outside of society, an untethered phantom in need of a new life.” – Lev Golinkin, essay in The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives
June 20 is World Refugee Day, intended to focus on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees. As Plymouth prepares to help a refugee family settle into a new home and community this year, we’ll also use this opportunity to learn more together about the issues impacting refugees globally and locally.
Did You Know?
A displaced person is someone who has fled or been forced to leave their home, whether through violence, persecution, or natural or human-made disasters. Displaced people include these three groups:
Refugees are people forced to leave their country due to ethnic, political, or religious persecution. They have gone through a rigorous legal process, where their claims of persecution have been vetted and affirmed by a court of law, granting them legal status for international assistance and resettlement in a new country.
Asylum seekers are also seeking protection outside their own country, but differ in that their claim for refugee status has not yet been determined by a court of law. Not every asylum seeker will be recognized as a refugee, but most refugees are initially asylum seekers.
Internally displaced persons (IDP) have fled from their homes to a different region within their own country. Unlike refugees, they are not protected by international law or eligible to receive many types of aid because they are still under the jurisdiction of their home country. This group accounts for more than half of all displaced people in the world.
The scope of the global crisis is dizzying:
- 80 million people are forcibly displaced in the world. (source)
- 40% of the world’s displaced people are children. (source)
- As of 2019, one in every 97 people on the planet was displaced. (source)
- 85% of the world’s displaced people are hosted in developing countries, often in areas affected by acute food insecurity & malnutrition. (source)
- The number of people displaced globally nearly doubled in the decade between 2009 and 2019. (source)
- Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. (source)
“There are more refugees and internally displaced people now than at any other time in history. This is truly a global humanitarian crisis.” (source)
Given the complexity of this issue, we’ll break it down into more digestible themes in the weeks ahead and invite you to come on this journey by engaging with future content in the Plymouth Weekly, Contact, and on Plymouth’s social media channels.
How to get involved?
There are a number of ways you can get more involved, starting with actions that take no more than a few minutes of your time:
- Say a prayer for refugees.
- Participate in a virtual World Refugee Day event or attend a local event:
- Volunteer your time or donate needed household items to the Plymouth Welcomes a Refugee Family Project.