Worldwide refugee crises have reached unprecedented numbers and are only projected to get worse. Get informed and involved so you can make a difference.
In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the global community is facing an unprecedented number of refugees. And it’s not just Ukraine. In the last 10 years, the worldwide refugee population has grown to more than twice its size. People are fleeing war and conflict in Eritrea, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Syria — and these are just the largest ten refugee crises currently.
To make matters worse, about half of the world’s twenty-six million refugees are children, and eighty-five percent of refugees are being hosted in developing countries. Being the richest country in the world, the US can do much better. Critics have slammed Biden for doing the bare minimum in accepting Ukrainians and Afghans. Asylum seekers from Mexico and South American states continue to be turned away at the Mexico-USA border, or jailed in for-profit, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers. Human Rights First has criticized these facilities as “inhumane, unnecessary, and wasteful,” explaining that subjecting asylum seekers to these conditions can even cause physical and psychological damage.
The US response is a reminder that the true crisis being experienced is amongst the refugees themselves, as well as neighboring countries baring the load of hosting the vast majority of refugees. While rich, Western states have the resources to support refugees, it is the poor and developing countries which take the highest numbers. This is seen in the case of Syrian, Afghan, and Ukrainian refugees.
Unfortunately, refugee numbers are likely to increase as the crises are exacerbated by climate change. Climate-related factors are already forcing people to migrate. As sea levels rise, soil becomes infertile and natural disasters become commonplace, the world will see greater numbers of refugees, disproportionately from the Global South. Experts estimate that by 2050 there could be over one billion climate refugees. Many people forced from their homes due to climate change have been referred to as “the world’s forgotten victims,” because their plight doesn’t constitute their international recognition as ‘refugees,’ resulting in lack of access to protection and services in host countries. Get involved now to help mitigate the damage and save lives.
There are many ways to volunteer your time to help refugees. Look for something in your area which matches your skills, schedule and abilities. This may involve teaching classes, picking up refugees from the airport, working at welcome centers and drop-off centers and more. The International Rescue Committee is accepting volunteers to help with cultural orientation classes, administration tasks, securing professional employment for volunteers, English and math tutoring.
2. Host for Refugees
There are many credible organizations connecting refugees and welcoming US homes. If you have the space, consider temporarily housing a refugee. You can really impact somebody by offering them a place to stay and helping them get settled in your community. Look into organizations like Room for Refugees, My Home is Your Home and Ukraine Take Shelter.
Donate clothing, medicine, supplies or money. Look into drop-off centers in your area and figure out what is needed. You may be able to deliver some used clothes you no longer use, or pick up blankets, school supplies, pads and tampons, luggage, medications and other necessities for asylum seekers. Donate money to The UN Refugee Agency and Doctors Without Borders, or donate items to your local US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
4. Fundraise to Help Mitigate the Refugee Crisis
You can only donate so much on your own. Make a difference on a greater scale by organizing fundraisers. Go back to your high school roots and do a bake sale, garage sale, car wash, or walkathon. Use your assets to your advantage! Make a GoFundMe account, donate ten percent of profits from your business or start a donation campaign on social media.
Get to the streets and organize, demonstrate and protest. Help advocate for refugees by making your voice heard by your representatives. The fact is the US can and should be doing a lot more to help. We have the land and the resources, and we should be more generous with them. Talk to your friends, family and co-workers and get people involved in attending and organizing demos in your town.
6. Speak Out
Post on social media, spread the word in everyday conversation, and text people you think may want to get involved. The more informed we are, the better! Make sure to be a true ally and use your platform to amplify refugee voices. Share statements, videos and important information. Advocate for acceptance of more refugees, equal rights for asylum seekers and their humane treatment.
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