Who are refugees? Stand with them!

World Refugee Day Refugees Children“In my experience, going home is the deepest wish of most refugees.” – Angelina Jolie

Stand #WithRefugees on June 20th, #WorldRefugeeDay.

At this moment, there are over 21 million refugees in the world, and many more who are displaced from their homes. In fact, there are more refugees and displaced people now than at any other time in history. Over half are children.

It’s a number that feels totally overwhelming. Here is another that feels the opposite… rather underwhelming: just 162,500 were referred for resettlement last year by UNHCR – the U.N.’s refugee organization. The U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Scandinavian countries took in most of them.

Resettlement is an incredibly rare opportunity. Less than 1% of those seeking safety and a brighter future are given the chance to do so. You are 13 times more likely to be admitted to Harvard University than to the U.S. as a refugee, and first you must undergo an 18-24 month screening process. Of all people entering our country, refugees are by far the most carefully scrutinized.

Who are they? Refugees are people fleeing their country because of violence and persecution due to race, religion, ethnic group, nationality or political opinion. They are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They are not leaving for economic reasons, and given the choice would return to their homes. We know this from the many we have worked with here at Prosperity Candle… women who were forced to run for their lives, leaving behind everything they knew and cherished.

The journey is difficult and dangerous, usually ending in temporary camps with insufficient food, shelter or medical care. School is interrupted for children, and parents can no longer work to earn a living. Families end up living in these conditions for years, even decades.

And yet, they are hopeful. They are resilient. They are strong. They are wonderful people who contribute to our communities, our democracy and our economy.

We encourage you to take a moment to meet Solaf (a 9 year old girl who loves to draw), Mojtaba (22 year old biologist researching cancer), and Baw Meh (78 year old woman who dreams of a safer future for her grandchildren). Your day will be enriched for doing so.

Then join Cate Blanchett, Ben Stiller and millions more adding their names to this petition to send a clear message all governments to act with compassion, in solidarity and shared responsibility.

And on June 20th #WorldRefugeeDay, tell the world you stand #WithRefugees and #EmbraceRefugees.

Thank you!

Watch more at Refugee Day Stories
Learn more at Embrace Refugees
Be sure to sign the Refugee Day Petition

Quick Facts from UNHCR
Top photo by P. Biro/IRC

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  1. Were not our ancestors refugees coming to America. Now it is our turn to welcome those fleeing from violence, and poverty. Let us open our hearts and arms in welcome.

  2. Thank you for your comments and email responses to our post. While questions should continually be raised about the strength of America’s refugee vetting process, the measures currently in place are among the most rigorous in the world. Since new methods were introduced nearly 4 decades ago, there has not been an attack on American soil by a terrorist posing as a refugee. Our message is simply that the security concerns over refugees – over half of whom are children fleeing violence – are misplaced given that they are far better screened than others entering the U.S., and domestic groups have proven to be of greater threat.


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