June 6, 2016
In 2001, the UN General Assembly declared June 20th “World Refugee Day” in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and in recognition of Africa Refugee Day, which is observed on the same day. Today, the number of displaced people worldwide is at a record high, with over 65 million people forced from their homes at the end of 2015.
Photo by Diaconia ECCB-CRD staff while visiting the Za’atarí refugee camp in Jordan
Years in Temporary “Homes”
Some people escaping war temporarily settle in another part of their country while others leave their entire nations. More than half of displaced people are children under the age of 18.
“I came to the camp 4 years ago with my 1-year-old son. I had nothing to take with me because they have destroyed everything we had. We left at the last moment possible. The worst thing here in the camp is living in the tent,” Dareen, a Syrian staying at the Za’atarí refugee camp in northern Jordan, told our colleague Petra Nedbálková in November 2015.
World Refugee Day builds awareness for stories such as these.
Diaconia operates in 4 countries
In Jordan we work in the refugee camp Za’atarí and are trying to give people like Dareen more hope for the future. Dareen is visiting hairdressing courses that we hold in the camp in partnership with our associates. She dreams of opening her own hairdressing salon and that instead of a tent, she will live in a caravan one day. We also organize various clubs for all the children in the camp, including Dareen’s son. In addition to participating in vocational classes or youth clubs, Diaconia provides the opportunity for children and adults to visit a psychologist with whom they speak about their traumas. We believe that the most important thing is the hope in a normal life after the camp.
In northern Iraq, we work in camps in the north of the country. Last year we delivered there some hygienic necessities and this year we would like to equip the local school.
In Myanmar/Burma we are training volunteer firefighters in Rakhine State refugee camps. Since the camps are made of bamboo, fires are a frequent danger during the dry season.
In Ukraine we provided winter clothes to infants between 0-2 years old for people who left their homes in the east of the country because of the war.
The Refugee Crisis in 2015
2015 saw a great inflow of refugees coming to Europe. However, Europe was not prepared for such a huge influx of people. That is why we started helping the people staying in provisional conditions in Serbia and Greece. The tragic stories over the last year compel us to systematically and effectively deal with the refugee crisis. We do not want to see refugees being sent to Turkey if there’s a danger that Turkey will send displaced people back to Syria in violation of international law.
In addition to providing for those already displaced, we also call for the resolution of the problems forcing people to leave their homes. In dealing with the root issues, we may reduce the number of ordinary people who are forced to live in extraordinary situations.