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Refugee issues are at the forefront of the political debate in many countries. As more refugees move to wealthy nations in Western Europe and North America, more people are turning their attention to the plight of displaced people. Poorer countries, that today, and historically, host most the world’s refugees, have long been advocating the importance of refugee concerns.
But really, why do we hear so much about refugees? With so many issues going on in the world, why are refugees important? Well, let us explain…
There Are Hundreds of Millions of Refugees
A first reason why refugees are important is because so many people are displaced today.
The United Nations estimates there are over 30 million refugees in the world. These are people who have fled across a border to escape conflicts, disasters, or persecution. On top of this, UNHCR estimates there are over 50 million internally displaced people globally. These are people who have been forced to flee their homes but remain in their country. Combined, this means there is an enormous number of people in the world who have been forced to leave their homes.
The enormous scale of the world’s refugee crises is a major reason why refugees are important. With so many people displaced it is imperative that a global solution to refugee issues are sought and that countries work together to end conflicts and allow refugees to return to their communities.
It is estimated that least 1% of the world’s population are refugees. The huge number of people that are currently displaced is a major reason why refugee issues are vital for everyone.
Refugees Need Our Help
A second reason why refugees are important is because they need assistance.
When people are forced to flee their homes, they often leave quickly. Refugees can leave almost everything they have behind – not just material possessions, but also jobs and businesses. Helping refugees is vital and requires an international effort.
People fleeing conflicts, persecution and disasters need a wide range of assistance. This can include items such as food and clothes, as well as shelter and medical attention. Long-term refugees also need healthcare, education, and support in developing a livelihood.
As well as the need for international aid to assist refugees, there is also a vital need for the world to come together to resolve the root causes of people’s displacement. Wars should be brought to an end so people can return home. Countries that persecute people should be held accountable or encouraged to change.
The enormous needs of refugees, and the urgency in which the world must help them, is a major reason why they’re important.
Refugee Numbers Are Growing
A third reason why refugees are important is because there are more displaced people in the world today than almost ever before.
The number of refugees around the world, as well as internally displaced people, is growing. Modern conflicts disproportionately impact civilians, resulting in millions of people being forced to flee their homes. Although statistically there are fewer wars globally than almost ever before, the fact that civilians are often deliberately targeted has resulted in more refugees than almost any time in history.
As well as the enormous number of refugees caused by conflicts around the world, other major factors have also resulted in an increase in displaced people. Climate change is now a major driver of refugees. As the world gets warmer, many people are forced to move from their homes and find food, farmable land, or new livelihoods. As the climate crisis worsens, this will only further increase.
The fact that refugee numbers have grown dramatically in the last 20 years, shows why the issue is so important.
There Are Refugees All Over the World
Another reason why refugees are important is because they are all over the world.
There is no region of the world unaffected by the refugee crisis. Major conflicts in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America have caused millions of people to flee. Many of these wars have lasted so long, people have begun to seek longer-term refuge in more stable parts of the world. This has resulted in millions of people moving towards conflict free areas including North America and Western Europe.
The countries in the world hosting the most refugees include Germany, Colombia, Uganda, and Pakistan. This shows how much of a global issue human displacement is. Although the countries hosting the most refugees are generally nearer to conflict and crises hotspots, more developed countries including Sweden, Turkey, and Poland now host hundreds of thousands of refugees as well.
The fact that refugees and displaced people are literally all over the world is a major reason why they’re important.
Refugees and Migration Online Courses
If you are interested in learning more about refugees and migration, and the types of jobs available, we highly recommend the Sciences Po International Migration: A Global Issue course. We think it’s the best online short course offering an overview of the issues facing displaced people and the communities that host them. Follow the link to the course’s page.
Another online short course on refugees and migration we highly recommend is the University of Glasgow’s Interpreting for Refugees: Contexts, Practices and Ethics. It looks at both the theory and practice of assisting refugees and migrants. The link is to the course’s page with more information.
The University of Glasgow also offers an online short course on Working Supportively With Refugees. Students on the course learn the principles, skills, and perspectives needed to provide assistance to those forced to flee their homes. Click the link to go to the course’s page.
Countries Hosting Refugees Need Assistance
One big reason why refugees are important is because the countries hosting them need significant assistance.
The majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in poorer countries in the Global South. In fact, some of the poorest countries in the world, including Ethiopia, Lebanon and Kenya, host some of the most refugees.
Having large number of additional people enter a community can put a strain on local resources. Refugees also need to be provided with aid and poorer countries are often unable to do this. Therefore, it is a vital that the international community gives assistance to nations hosting huge numbers of refugees. Understanding this is part of the reason why refugees are important.
When refugee influxes are mis-managed, it can cause tensions with the host community. Providing aid directly to the refugees, whilst also building their capacities and addressing some of general issues the host community face, is key to ensuring refugees and their host communities are supported.
The vital need for poorer countries hosting refugees to be given aid to help them do this is why refugee issues are so important.
Some of the Most Important People Ever Were Refugees
A Key reason why refugees are important is because some of the most famous people ever were actually refugees.
You may not know it, but Albert Einstein, Sigmund Fraud, Freddie Mercury, and Bob Marley were all once refugees. They all had to flee their homes because of either conflict or persecution.
The fact that some of the most well-known people today, and throughout history, were refugees shows their importance. It demonstrates to everyone not only the value that refugees can bring to their host communities, but also that people can be persecuted, or face conflict, no matter how great they may be or the value they may be able to offer. This is important to remember about every refugee today.
Very few people actually know famous people such as these were refugees. Highlighting this fact is vital because it humanises the experiences that refugees have, whilst also showing their tremendous contributions.
Refugees Can Contribute to Our Communities
A final reason why refugees are important is because of the contribution they make to our communities.
Almost every community in the world hosts refugees. They can be our friends, family, and colleagues. They can also be business owners, politicians, serve in the armed forces, volunteer with charities and be community leaders. The fact that, when given the opportunity, refugees almost always integrate into their host communities and work to contribute to society is a major reason why they are also important.
One demonstration of the contribution refugees can make to their host communities is the economic impact they can have. It’s been shown that, when able to, refugees can provide a significant economic boost to countries that host them. Refugees are often young, eager to learn, dynamic and bring a varied wealth of cultural experiences that can help them excel economically – when given the chance.
The fact that refugees can offer a significant contribution to communities that host them is perhaps one the biggest reasons why they are important.
If you want to learn more about why refugees are important, explore our page on the top refugee and migration online courses here.