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Everything You Need to Know About Helping Refugees

The global refugee crisis has resulted in 25.4 million refugees around the world. This astonishing number of people who have had to flee their homes in search of a better and safer life. The number can be so overwhelming, that sometimes we forget that behind every number, there are human beings.

That’s why we’ve put together this article on everything you need to know about helping refugees. To remind ourselves and others that after all, refugees are people, who need help and support.

Who is a refugee?

Refugees fall under a particular legal protection category. While it is easy to confuse them with immigrants, they are not. Immigrants move to another country for economic or social reasons. But refugees move because they are forced to.

A refugee is someone who flees their home because it is no longer safe or sustainable to live there. They are running away from war, conflict, political adversity or devastating natural disasters. As such, the legal system protects their rights to remain in their country of destination. In fact, it is illegal to deport refugees to their homes, as it would be a risk to their lives. Learn more about who is a refugee.

Where do refugees come from?

Refugees leave their homes because they have to. It is not a choice – they are saving their lives. That’s why most refugees come from countries that are facing conflict and violence. Over the past years, Syria has been one of the major sources of refugees worldwide. The war that started in 2011 has produced over 5 million refugees.

Similarly, Afghanistan and South Sudan have produced millions of refugees due to conflict and instability. On the other hand, nearly a million people exited Myanmar last year due to ethnic persecution. Further, people leave countries like Venezuela for fear of political instability and dire economic conditions. Learn more about where refugees come from and how they get to destination countries via dangerous routes.

Where do refugees come from

What are the rights of refugees?

It is our global humanitarian responsibility to help those in need. Anyone could become a refugee – it’s impossible to predict history. No refugee leaves their country by choice; they are forced to do so. And to guarantee their human rights, international law sets out a number of provisions.

For example, countries are not allowed to deport refugees back to their homes, as this would be inhumane. Once a refugee has legally claimed asylum, they must be granted social and economic rights as well. Learn more about the rights of refugees here.

What are the Pinheiro Principles?

After conflict subsides, many refugees wish to return to their homes. However, when they fled, they will have likely left behind their property and land. So what do they return to?

To help countries deal with this dilemma, international law sets out the Pinheiro Principles. These are a set of guidelines for national governments to address the issue of returning refugees and their rights to land, property, etc. Learn more about the Pinheiro Principles.

What are refugee camps?

Often, the influx of refugees is immense, particularly in countries bordering conflict zones. This means that there is no sustainable way to integrate refugees directly into the country. So, humanitarian organizations and local governments set up refugee camps.

Refugee camps are meant to provide only temporary shelter for refugees. However, the reality is entirely different. Some refugee camps go on to exist for decades. For example, the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya was established in 1991 and still hosts over 200,000 people today. Learn more about the largest refugee camps in 2018. Read about the daily needs of millions in refugee camps. Want to know what Christmas looks like in a refugee camp? Read about it here.

How are NGOs helping refugees?

The humanitarian sector is essential in providing support to refugees and their families. Nations bordering conflict zones do everything that they can to help and host refugees. But the sheer number of refugees is often unsustainable for the local economy.

As such, humanitarian and development organizations work tirelessly to provide much-needed services. This includes food, shelter, healthcare, education, employment training, and more. Learn about 27 organizations that help refugees.

organizations that help refugees

What is it like to volunteer with refugees?

Volunteers are also vital in supporting refugees. Humanitarian organizations try to implement as much funding as possible to help refugees. However, more help is always needed. So volunteers often help to fill the gap. For example, teachers and healthcare workers are two important roles that are often required in refugee camps.

It is important to note that volunteers should do their research before deciding to volunteer with refugees. Here is a handy article on some things to consider before you choose to volunteer with refugees. You can also learn about resettlement activities and refugee camp activities.

What is world refugee day?

On June 20th each year, we celebrate World Refugee Day. It’s an important day of reflection, collaboration, and actions.

It’s an opportunity to remind ourselves how fortunate we are and that we can help refugees find a new home. It is a chance for organizations to come together and leverage their resources in assisting refugees. And finally, it’s a day to take and promote action to ensure that the rights of refugees are met and that each one can live their life in dignity. Learn more about World Refugee Day.

Famous refugees

Did you know that a lot of famous people are also refugees? We often see a refugee as someone in need of help. However, once given the resources to set up their new life, refugees have the opportunity to succeed. If you want to learn more, take a look at this list of famous refugees.

Challenges returning refugees face

When refugees do return, there are some issues that they may face. Their home countries will have gone through severe conflicts or natural disasters. As a result, much of the infrastructure may be in shambles and will require reconstruction. Also, returning refugees are likely to face;

  • property rights issues. Many will find their homes destroyed. Some others will find their homes occupied by new families.
  • a political transition and continued insecurity as some refugees might face political regime backlash for having left.
  • discrimination and even community violence as the community dynamic changes with conflict.

Here’s an article about returning refugees and what this means for humanitarian assistance.

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