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Celebrating the Courage of the Refugee

Emergencies, News/feature, Ireland, Syria, 2013
Refugees in Zaatri camp, Jordan, receive buckets, jerry cans and other relief items from UNHCR to help them survive and live in the camp while away from home. UNHCR’s water and sanitation partner UNICEF have installed water points in the camp. Photo: UNHCR / A. Rummery

Your home is faraway and in ruins. What do you do?

Imagine your young daughter is sick but you don’t know where the hospital is? You don’t understand the language. Your home is faraway and in ruins. What do you do?

The life of a refugee is full of fear and uncertainty.

June 20th is World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations to mark the enormous courage and strength that women, men and children show in the face of being forced to leave their homes to seek refuge elsewhere due to conflict, natural disaster or other humanitarian emergencies.

The UNHCR’s Global Trends Report 2012 released today is an alarming record of the scale of displacement throughout the world.  Today there are more people displaced from their homes than at any other time since 1994. At the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were forced to run for sanctuary and as many as 23,000 people are forced to flee every day.

Ireland is a strong supporter of the UN agencies and NGO partners providing support to displaced people throughout the world. Ireland has provided over €30 million since 2010 to help UNHCR (The UN agency for refugees) meet the emergency needs of displaced people around the world in countries such as Liberia, Chad, Western Sahara, Somalia and across the Horn of Africa. With our support, another partner, the International Rescue Committee, is working in Jordan to ensure emergency assistance to vulnerable women and girls who have fled the violence in Syria. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Christian Aid is assisting terrified families displaced from the longstanding conflict in the east of the country.

The life of the refugee is one of struggle and anxiety but it is also story of determination and resilience. With the numbers of people who have to face this challenge increasing, we must redouble our efforts to match their perseverance.