Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to love normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere – Ban Ki-Moon

Today is World Refugee Day, a day to raise awareness for the millions of refugees currently displaced from their homes for many reasons including; war, climate change, food insecurity and water scarcity. However the reasons can often be a combination of different factors.

One of the biggest sources of refugees at the moment is the Syrian civil war, which has created 4.8 million refugees and 6.5 million people who have been displaced within Syria. A staggering half of these are children, who are not only missing out on their childhoods and education, but are also at risk of becoming malnourished, ill, abused and exploited.

Recently Brandon Stanton, the photographer and blogger behind Humans of New York, went to Jordan and Turkey where he met with 12 families who had been cleared for resettlement in America. He told their stories through his blog, and it was a brilliant way of showing the personal stories behind the massive statistics we hear in the news, reminding us of the real people whose lives have been torn apart and have had to leave their homes to find a safer place to live for themselves and their families.

One of the stories show a couple who lived in Syria but are now refugees in Turkey. The wife was a doctor in Syria, ISIS tracked her down as the only doctor living in the area, they took her husband away at gunpoint and said they wanted to set up a hospital with her as the doctor and the husband would run it. He agreed to everything, once he was allowed to return home to his wife they fled Syria. They had been in Turkey for two years waiting to hear about their application. She is a trained doctor but is not allowed to work because she is a refugee.

Meanwhile the last week in May this year saw one of the deadliest weeks for refugees in a year, with estimations of 700 refugees dying in 3 shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. Those facing extreme danger in their home countries are often desperate enough to trust illegal and very dangerous means of getting to a safer country and sadly tragedies like this will keep occurring. The risks refugees take to get to safer country show just how scared they must be to remain in their home country.

While today is particularly poignant I hope we can still continue to think about refugees and ‘celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere’ every other day of the year.

-Danielle Triggs
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.


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