234 – World Refugee Day 2017
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World Refugee Day 2017

Insightful visualization shows flow of refugees around the world

Each day thousands of families are forced to flee their homes because of war. They have to leave everything behind to look for safer areas to live. June 20th is the World’s Refugee Day, a day dedicated to refugees. On this day, we raise awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world and encourage compassion and inclusion towards refugees.

Why a World Refugee Day

The United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 55/76 that was passed in 2000 decided that 20th June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. This day was chosen to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. African Refugee Day had been celebrated in several countries prior to 2000 on this particular date.

On World Refugee Day, countless groups around the world host events to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees and displaced persons worldwide. People that have been forced from their homes due to war, conflict, and persecution. Last year, the UN Refugee Agency launched the #WithRefugees campaign to send a message to governments that they must work together and do their fair share concerning refugees.

A new visualization shows the movements of refugees around the world from 2000 to 2015. Each yellow dot in the graph represents 17 refugees leaving a country. Each red dot stands for refugees arriving somewhere else. This is what you see in the subjoined visualization: Tens of thousands of refugees fled the war in Afghanistan in 2001. Two years later, the genocide in Darfur pushed a lot of people from Sudan. In 2006, war drove Lebanese citizens to Syria and Sri Lankans fled to India. Germany was taking in scores of refugees from countries such as Iraq by 2009. The civil war in Syria escalated in 2012 and pushed huge numbers of refugees into neighboring countries.

Unrest in Ukraine caused refugees to flee in 2013, and in even greater numbers in 2014. By 2015, the civil war in Syria was pushing a great number of refugees out of the country. Mass movement from South Sudan also continued, even though it received little attention from the international media. In the same year, the U.S. took in almost 70,000 refugees, while Uganda, with a population roughly eight times smaller, welcomed more than 100,000 people. Developing countries host nearly 90% of the world’s refugees.

"Often the debates we have in society start with emotion and extreme thoughts, like, Oh, refugees are invading the United States," Illah Nourbakhsh tells Fast Company. He is director of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, the lab that made the new visualization. "Showing people data in an animated, interactive visualization is an interesting shortcut into your brain. That visual evidence often moves you from somebody who’s questioning the data to somebody who can see the data," he says.

The visualization might help people to understand the extent of the refugee crisis better, and potentially push for support. "Let’s put this in perspective," Nourbakhsh says. "There are a lot of refugees coming out of Syria. But check out Central Africa: We aren’t even paying attention to these. It changes people’s perspective, and it makes people care more."

On World Refugee Day, we raise awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world as well as celebrate the enormous progress in the area of helping refugees. We are proud to serve several compassionate organizations who try to improve the lives of thousands of refugees worldwide. Contact a regional Raptim office through our quick address locator in case you have any questions.

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