According to a UNHCR report on refugees in 2015, 65.3 million people have been displaced by conflict in their home countries, which accounts for the highest number of people displaced in history. 1 in every 113 people on earth can be identified as a refugee, asylum seeker, or displaced person. These numbers are not only staggering, but astounding, in a world where Google is well on its way to funding a self-driven car, millions in Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ukraine, Burundi, and Libya, are putting themselves in the hands of dangerous human traffickers in order to seek some semblance of a life not marred by violence and the inability to survive.
In the wake of this heartache celebrations were underway across the world to put a face to the numbers. Arguably, no other continent feels the longstanding effects of those displaced by conflict more than Africa. Historically World Refugee Day was incorporated into an internationally recognized day December 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 55/76 decided that from June 20, 2001 this day would be celebrated. African Refugee Day had been formally celebrated in several countries prior to 2000. The U.N. noted that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on June 20.
In this resolution, this past Monday, June 20, 2016, was a day to rejoice. Take a look at how World Refugee Day was celebrated across Africa:
Juba, South Sudan
Ethiopian refugees and South Sudanese local models take part in a fashion show in Juba, South Sudan, to mark World Refugee Day. South Sudan hosts more than 270,000 refugees, primarily from Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.
Chad has hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees for decades. There are currently about 370,000 refugees from Sudan, Nigeria and the Central African Republic living in the country. Even on World Refugee Day, UNHCR is assisting around 2,000 new arrivals from recent clashes in CAR.
Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees made a human tower at Ethiopia’s Tsore camp and stood tall #WithRefugees. Ethiopia hosts the largest refugee population in Africa with more than 734,000 people from South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen and other countries. Tsore is the newest of the country’s 24 refugee camps.
Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo
More than 380,000 refugees from countries including the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Burundi have sought safety in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this city in the east of the country, hundreds of refugees and locals ran through the streets in a show of solidarity #WithRefugees.
A refugee team is set to make history in August when they compete in the Olympic Games under the IOC flag. At the heart of the team are five South Sudanese runners. They were serenaded at a ceremony in Nairobi Monday, along with their trainer, Tegla Loroupe, the world champion Kenyan runner who started a foundation to promote peace through sports.
A walk through the Cameroonian capital in solidarity with refugeees drew a spirited turnout on Saturday. Cameroon is generously hosting 350,000 refugees from the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Sudan.
(With information from UNHCR)