Forced to Flee: An Overview of the Global Refugee Crisis

June is World Refugee Month, which is highlighted by World Refugee Day on June 20. As one of Salt Lake City’s two Refugee Resettlement agencies, we’re celebrating World Refugee Month by shining a light on the global refugee crisis and inviting you to join us in learning more about our friends around the world who are forced to flee.  

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “global refugee crisis.” But what kind of crisis are we dealing with exactly? At the end of 2019, there were 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide— the most in history. On top of that number, it’s estimated by the UN that 44,000 new people are forced to flee their homes daily.

Under the umbrella of “forcibly displaced people,” are specific categories of people facing different circumstances. Refugees are one kind of forcibly displaced person. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines a refugee as someone who has been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war, or violence. Of the 79.5 forcibly displaced people around the world, 26 million are considered refugees. Of those 26 million, half are children.

While the number of refugees worldwide may be staggering, so is the number of refugees that have been resettled. At the end of 2019, only half a percent of the world’s refugees were resettled. Over the last decade, just over one million refugees have been resettled worldwide.

The state of Utah is home to over 65,000 resettled refugees who represent over 40 countries of origin. The most highly represented countries of origin for Utah refugees are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Iraq, and Burma.

Since the establishment of the Refugee Resettlement and Refugee Foster Care programs, Catholic Community Services has assisted in resettling thousands of refugees in the state of Utah. Our experienced staff offers clients a variety of services including case management, job placement, health services, interpretation, transportation, housing, food assistance, and more in an effort to empower clients to reach self-sufficiency.

The journey of a refugee can be strenuous and lengthy. On average, it takes two years to be approved for refugee status— often longer. Today, 85% of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries and 80% are hosted in areas impacted by acute food insecurity and malnutrition.

Of all the world’s refugees, 68% originate from just five countries. The top five countries of origin for refugees are currently Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar. Since 2014, Syria has been the main country of origin for refugees.

While the easiest way to look at the global refugee crisis from afar is through numbers, it’s important to remember that it isn’t about the numbers— it’s about the people they represent. It’s about the family of four fleeing violence in Eritrea. It’s about the unaccompanied refugee minor trying to escape trafficking in El Salvador. It’s about the man from Myanmar seeking refuge from the civil unrest in his country. It’s about the men, women, and children around the world who are forced to flee their homes in hopes of finding safety, freedom, and a fresh start.

 

REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT

 

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