June 20th was declared World Refugee Day less than thirteen years ago. Millions of Palestinians have been refugees for five times that many years. Over a million Syrian refugees have joined their ranks only recently, and their numbers are growing daily.
The United Nations reports that more than 45.2 million people have been displaced from their homes due to conflict or violence, making it the highest number since 1994, when millions of people fled ethnic violence in former Yugoslavia and genocide in Rwanda.
And each day, another 23,000 people begin to search for safety from harm or persecution—the world has a new refugee or internally displaced person every 4.1 seconds. “Each time you blink, another person is forced to flee,” said Antonio Guterres, chief of the U.N.’s Refugee Agency, in Geneva. Earlier, he called the numbers “truly alarming.” http://world.time.com/2013/06/20/the-worst-refugee-crisis-in/
No one wants to be a refugee. They didn't want to flee their homes, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They don't want to live on borrowed land, dependent on the charity of the world. No one chooses that path easily. It is chosen as a last resort—an alternative to certain death for loved ones.
Refugees love their families. They have hopes and dreams. Refugees would like nothing better than to leave their refugee status behind and live normal lives with only the ordinary problems of going to work each morning and raising their children to be good decent people...but that is not an option for them.
As UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie said in her press release today, 20 June 2013
I have met refugees around the world. They are resilient, hardworking and gracious people. They have experienced more violence and faced more fear than we will ever know. They have lost their homes, their belongings and their countries. They have often lost family and friends to horrific deaths. Faced with war and oppression they have chosen not to take up arms, but to try to find safety for their families. They deserve our respect, our acknowledgment and our support – not just today but for the duration of their ordeal. http://www.unhcr.org/51c2f7c26.html