“This year’s World Refugee Day affirms a fundamental tenet of our common humanity: everyone has the right to seek safety – whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee.” -UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
Today is World Refugee Day, a day to honour the courage of those who have been forced to flee their homes to escape conflict or persecution. It’s an opportunity to build empathy and understanding for the plight of refugees and to take action to support their resilience in rebuilding their lives.
This World Refugee Day, we catch up with a Soroptimist living in Ukraine, as they explain the importance of empathy and protection in times of crisis:
“February 24 is a tragic date in Ukrainian history. Since then, there has hardly been a day without the terrifying wail of the sirens. Ukrainians spend weeks in shelters under incessant air raids and bombing, often without bread and water. There are days when humanitarian aid cannot be delivered to those in need and our soldiers share food with them and help them in every possible way. People, mostly women and children, leave their home places trying to find refuge either in Western Ukraine or abroad. Many of them saw their nearest and dearest die before their eyes. They saw not only their houses but all their life go to pieces. They are broken financially, physically and emotionally. When the refugees come, they are in despair and it takes time to warm them up, to heal their wounds, psychological and somatic. It is not enough to give them a roof and food. It is empathy and protection they need.”
There are currently over 27 million Refugees in the world, half of them under the age of 18. This World Refugee Day, we remember that Refugees come from all over the globe, they may travel by plane, boat, bus, or on foot but what remains universal is their right to safety and dignity. As new refugee situations emerge and intensify, and as existing ones reignite or remain unresolved, there is an acute need for durable solutions. Soroptimists around the world will continue to take action to protect the rights of Refugees through grassroot community projects and international advocacy efforts.
For more information on Soroptimist International’s position, please see our Position Paper on Women and Girl Refugees and Migrants.
For more information on the rights of Refugees please refer to The Global Compact on Refugees.
For more information on global refugee trends, please visit the UNHCR website.