Celebrating the World Refugee Day

By: Prof Abdul Shakoor

No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.

Warsan Shire


World Refugee Day was first fêted on June 20, 2001 to venerate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It is a thorough man-made crisis for other human beings. The lust for power and rule has pushed us in an inhumane pit where we push others out of their homes on the pretext of world peace, democracy and terrorism. It is irony of the situation that the of countries from where a bulk of refugees have gushed out to bordering regions was not worsening before inflicting war or any other form of human inhalation and exploitation on the name of world peace, democracy and terrorism. The world power mongers have created much mess and unrest in the world in the name of world peace. About 1% of the world’s population is displaced. Presently, every minute 20 people abscond everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. One person is compulsorily displaced roughly every two seconds. The middling span of dislodgment is now 20 years or more, with intact generations born and raised in refugee camps, and spending a major fraction of their lives as refugees. On average, 42,500 people per day flee their homes to seek protection within the borders of their own country or other countries. The largest numbers of refugees are from Syria 6.65 million, Afghanistan 2.68 million, South Sudan 2.29 million, Myanmar 1.15 million and Somalia 950,000. The other countries have engulfed the crisis respectively, Congo 99,500, Central African Republic 45,350 and Nigeria 37,850. The amount of people in quest of sanctuary worldwide boosted by 412,400 with much of this augment resulting from the crisis in Venezuela. In just 12 months, the number of Venezuelans looking for asylum grew by 316,250 to 464,230.

According to UNHCR, the five countries hosting the largest bulk of refugees are Turkey with 3.68 million, Pakistan with 1.40 million, Uganda with 1.17 million, Sudan with 1.08 million and Germany with 1.07 million. Pakistan refugee statistics for 2020 was 1,438,955.00, a 1.36% increase from 2019. Their demographic includes up to 40,000 registered Kashmiri refugees who have fled the Kashmir Valley, located in Indian-administered Kashmir, to Pakistan since the late 1980s due to conflict in the region. Pakistan is also hosting Afghanistan refugees whose resettlement is the responsibility of the UN. The UN must focus on the resettlement of the Afghan refugees back to their homeland so that Pakistan can get rid of the unavoidable burden of extra mass of refugees. The number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate is 21.3M Palestine refugees, 53.2M Asylum seekers. It is also quite paradoxical that the countries which can afford a bigger chunk of refugees host only 17% of world refugees while the rest of 83% of global refugees are being hosted in low and middle-income countries. 72% of total displaced people are hosted in neighboring countries.

The world must try to grasp the condition and situation of those bordering countries where  69% originated from just five countries. Over the past three years, more than 75,000 children have been born in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar. About 30% of refugees incoming through the Balkans are children, while approximately 25% of these children are alone.  Nearly half of all refugee children are out of school, a number has been worsened by the COVID pandemic. Less than 1% of all refugees are ever capable of relocating and unearthing a new life in security and protection. If all compulsorily dislodged people formed their own country, it would be the 14th largest nation in the world. According to the United Nations, the number of people who are terribly emaciated has already doubled in the past two years since the spate of the Corona pandemic, from 135 million people to 276 million. Existing price hike could cause that number to rise to 323 million in the forthcoming months. Around 80% of Syrian refugee families live below the poverty line. An estimated 25% of internally displaced peoples are young women, with pregnant women making up another 4%.

Approximately more than 20 million refugees worldwide, 51% are under the age of 18. More than 21 million of these people are refugees and 10 million are stateless. This is the highest number of child refugees since World War II. 50% of refugees, internally displaced, or stateless populations are women and girls.  1 in 5 women refugees experience sexual violence. Refugee women could generate and contribute $1.4 trillion to the annual global GDP. The first-ever Refugee Team competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The team was composed of athletes from Ethiopia, South Sudan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Syria. In the last year alone, there have been 13.9 million people newly displaced. The civil war in Syria has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises of our lifetime. More than 11 million Syrians are currently displaced. This amounts to 45% of the Syrian population. This number of refugees has jumped by 16% in the last decade. Refugees only account for a tiny percentage of overall immigration. The world’s largest refugee camp is located in Dadaab, Kenya, which is home to more than 329,000 people. It is the responsibility of the UN and world community to step forward for the just rights of the people of Kashmir, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and other world displaced countries to resettle them in their home land. It will not only ensure world peace but also stabilize the crumbling economy of the refugee hosted countries. If we invest the amount of money and resources on humans instead of war, there will be no need for war. It is also ironic that the majority of world refugees is Muslims.


The writer is a Prof. in English and Freelance Columnist based in Lahore. He can be reached at [email protected]