World Refugee Day

June 20, 2013

Today is World Refugee Day, a day meant to bring awareness to the roughly 15 million refugees and 45 million forcibly displaced people currently worldwide. These figures are the highest since 1994. The Syrian crisis is a significant contributor to the escalating numbers, with Syria the fifth highest source of refugees in 2012. The U.N. estimates that 3.5 million people will have fled Syria by the end of 2013. Four-year-old Shahad, a Syrian refugee now living in Lebanon, has become the U.N.’s face of Word Refugee Day.


In September 2012, a bomb destroyed Shahad’s home in the city of Hama and two of her siblings were killed. Her family fled to Lebanon where they now live in a half-constructed building shared by 650 other refugees.

Shahad’s father worries for his daughter, saying “She has seen fighter planes, artillery, missiles. There is nothing she has not seen.”

Children under the age of 18 make up approximately 46% of the world’s refugees–a conservative estimate when considering new births that go unrecorded.

It is important to spread awareness about the millions of families without shelter due to the ravage of war–they are the world’s most vulnerable. And while we must provide humanitarian aid to these struggling refugees, we must also strive to remedy the violence and conflict at the root of the crisis.

Are you interested in reading more refugee stories? Check out our books Censored 2013, World Report by Human Rights Watch, Overcoming Speechlessness, City of Widows, Love and War in Afghanistan, and Tower of Stone.

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