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The Importance of Refugee Advocacy

Steps we can take to support Refugee Communities

Illustration: David Foldvari

As we begin a new year, it is customary to not only reflect on our personal goals, but it is also imperative to reflect on our collective responsibility to the global community. 2023 was a year of world conflict. The raging war in Ukraine, the civil war in Sudan, and the ongoing hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo are just a few examples, and unfortunately, the list continues. Often, such disputes result in the mass displacement of people. Last year, a staggering 117.2 million people were uprooted. Among them, more than 30.51 million refugees sought new homes. 

Source: Venngage Inc.

Refugees are people driven to leave their country under duress. Iran, Turkey, and Germany are homes to the largest populations of refugees. The US hosts a substantial refugee community too.  Since 1975, 3.5 million refugees have immigrated here, surpassing the population of Nevada and marking a 123% increase from 2021. The influx of new refugees sees no end. The obligation to understand their stories and provide support is critical.


Refugees face both physical and mental challenges. Forced migration involves multifaceted difficulties including facing prejudice, overcoming language barriers, and adapting to new environments. Acquiring necessities, securing an education and job, and accessing healthcare are obstacles. Moreover, the psychological toll is evident in the 1/3 of asylum seekers suffering severe depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorders. The journey is a terrible ordeal.



Source: Drawing Change

We have the opportunity to help make this transition smoother by following four simple actions: understand, donate, connect, and advocate. 


Understand: We must broaden our understanding and deepen our knowledge of the refugee crisis in many ways: by staying abreast of current events, reading personal stories, and even watching movies like The Swimmers on Netflix, which tells the true story of two Syrian sisters fleeing their homeland. 


Donate: There are numerous NGOs that assist refugees and ask for donations to fund their programs. Donating helps organizations provide refugees with the tools they may need for success. 


Connect: Directly connecting with NGO’s or refugees to make a difference, no matter how big or small, matters. Fostering personal relationships and understanding specific needs creates a more targeted approach to support refugees. 

Source: PimaLib_Blog

Advocate: The biggest impacts are achieved together, which is why advocating is key. Speaking and spreading information, stories, and opportunities raises awareness and prompts greater discussion and action.  


The journey of refugees continues far beyond their arrival in a new country, and it is everyone’s responsibility to make our neighborhoods more welcoming.



Sources

  1. "Global Appeal," United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

  2. "The 10 largest," Concern worldwide US.

  3. "Refugee Data," United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

  4. USAFacts Team, "How many," USA Facts.

  5. "Mental Health," American Psychiatric Association.

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