There are currently 65.3 million forcibly displaced individuals worldwide, according to the UNHCR, and around half of the world’s displaced people are children. Every day, 33,972 people flee their homes—24 people every minute. Facing arguably the largest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime, it is the responsibility of all global citizens, regardless of culture, national origin, or worldview, to stand in defense of fundamental human rights and shape a global narrative in support of refugees.
Given recent conflicts throughout the world that have forced millions of individuals to flee their homes, the international community is faced with a considerable humanitarian challenge to protect global peace and security, and stand in solidarity with those fleeing wars and terror. However, there has been a glaring lack of sufficient international response to the global refugee crisis, as well as a surge in nationalist campaigns opposing refugee rights throughout Europe and the United States.
Often, the debate surrounding the refugee crisis fails to underscore the fact that refugees are human beings with unique experiences and whose lives have been radically transformed by war or persecution. Refugees are among the most vulnerable populations in the world—it is the obligation of all nations to take action and protect the human rights of all refugees, as established in both the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
In the context of the highly divisive, politicized nature of the public discourse surrounding the refugee crisis, there is an urgent need for unified voices of empathy and compassion.
Furthermore, it is extremely important to provide a platform for youth engagement in advocacy and social activism. Students are becoming acutely aware of global events and should be empowered to take on leadership roles to promote the causes they are passionate about. World for Refugees is a recently established, youth and refugee-led organization committed to raising awareness for the difficult reality faced by millions of refugees throughout the world. With an international team comprised primarily of high school and university students, World for Refugees highlights the critical role students can play in bringing about change on an international scale.
Individuals of every age, background, and worldview should be encouraged to learn more about the devastation faced by millions of refugees and how they can take action to defend the human rights of the most vulnerable, too often forgotten members of society. Once the problem is clearly defined and enough people mobilize to address it, we are that much closer to ending the refugee crisis and securing a life of peace and safety for all displaced persons.
Sustainable reform on a global level is well within reach, but in order for this to take place, individuals from around the world must take action to bring the refugee crisis to the forefront.
With meaningful advocacy and unified, global voices for change, we can overcome those who seek to divide us with hatred and fear.