Sustainability vs Displacement

Photo by: Kimberly Farmer taken from unsplash.com

September 2017 has been a busy period not only for the United Nations, but also for several activists and NGOs across the world that are seeking to promote world stability and peace. In preparation and anticipation of the International Day of Peace a host of events, articles and publications were released bringing to light the horrid atrocities committed throughout the world. These events also highlighted an array of possible ways to potentially help alleviate the struggle of violent conflict. Many prominent world figures and NGOs spoke about change and demonstrated their support for world peace, urging others to follow in their footsteps.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the International Day of Peace it is essentially a day dedicated to the issues of peace. It came about in 1981, when the United Nations General Assembly unanimously agreed to dedicate one day a year to unity and a global culture of peace. Each year the International Day of Peace has a new theme, and this year’s theme was dedicated to the cause of refugees and migrants, “Together for peace: Respect, safety and dignity for all.” As defined by the TOGETHER campaign, it “is a global initiative led by the United Nations that wants to change negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and to strengthen the social contract between host countries and communities, and refugees and migrants.”

As conflict spans across the world the number of refugees and displaced people continues to rise. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency we are currently seeing the highest level of displacement around the world. As indicated by the figures provided by the UN Agency, there are approximately 22.5 million refugees worldwide, where Syrians comprise the largest group with 5.5 million refugees to date. Followed by Afghanistan at 2.5 million and South Sudan at 1.4 million. [1] As well as the 5.3 million Palestinian refugees who are registered under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) mandate.

The above figures only provide a glimpse into the grim reality of the current global displacement situation. According to the Global Report on Internal Displacement, produced by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, by the end of 2016 there were 40.3 million people internally displaced across the world. [2]

Refugees, IDPs and asylum seekers are some of the most vulnerable groups today. While fleeing their home to escape violent conflict or the devastation of a natural disaster, the displaced people are subject to many dangers along the way. Shortages of food, clean water and safe shelter are only part of the problem, which is exacerbated by the continued discrimination, exploitation, abuse and high susceptibility to human trafficking. Another devastating consequence of displacement is the inability of children to receive adequate education, thus placing them at a huge disadvantage in the future.

Photo by: Larm Rmah taken from unsplash.com

Although providing emergency relief such as food, water and shelter is essential, there is a shift toward adopting a more sustainable framework, to pave the path for positive long-term solutions. Last year the United Nations adopted the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, which called for a comprehensive approach that would foster long-term solutions, by, “engaging governments, humanitarian and development actors, and refugees,” [3] While, the European Commission in 2016 adopted an approach that focuses on enabling refugees and IPDs to be self-reliant, hence shifting from “Aid-dependence to Self-reliance.” The idea is, “to harness the productive capacities of refugees and IDPs by helping them to access education, housing, land, livelihoods and services.”[4] Sustainable development, not only provides immediate assistance to the displaced, but it also provides a framework for continuous peace and economic growth, which helps curtail any future possibility of a conflict.

The International Day of Peace is over, but it is never too late to make a contribution and help those who are in need. With the idea of sustainability in mind, check out some of the suggestions below:

Charity Navigator: Provides a list of charities and their ranking

WarChild.ca : Provides, “access to education, opportunity and justice, War Child gives children in war-affected communities the chance to reclaim their childhood and break the cycle of poverty and violence”

Book Aid International : “Book Aid International currently provides brand new books, donated by publishers, to two refugee camps in Kenya — Kakuma and Dadaab”

Books for Refugees : Looking to enrich the lives of refugee children by providing them with books

Handicap-international is another phenomenal organization that is committed to helping people with disabilities in disaster and conflict-torn regions.

Refugee Connect — Connecting Westerners with New Refugees, this app is a great way to use the skills at your disposal. Using this app, allows refugees to practice their foreign language skills, for an easier way to integrate into a new society and job market.

Here are some more well-known organization worth taking a look at.

International Rescue Committee

Oxfam America

Doctors Without Borders

Save the Children

Mercy Corps

UNICEF

Or simply go to the UN Refugee Agency website to make a financial contribution.

Never underestimate your potential to change lives!