Today marks World Refugee Day — the international day to support and protect refugees across the globe. It also calls for refugees to be included in healthcare, education and sport.
World Refugee Day was first held globally in 2001, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
According to the UN Refugees Agency, there are 82.4 million people who have been forcibly displaced — a figure that has more than doubled from last decade (41 million in 2010).
The leading causes of this displacement include persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and disaster-related events.
Sixty-eight percent of the world’s refugees come from just five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar.
Naomi Steer is the Australia for UNHCR National Director, who says the increased frequency of climate change disasters has driven internal displacement.
“The dynamics of conflict, poverty, food insecurity and climate change are increasingly interconnected, and we’re finding more people displaced from a combination of these key drivers in search of safety, security or more hospitable environments,” she said.
Putting faces to the statistics
George Najarian is an Armenian refugee from Syria. Today, he resides in Australia and has raised over $12,000 for refugees. He has also spent countless hours volunteering and educating thousands about refugees.
“I’m proud of being a refugee because that shaped me,” he says.
“But I don’t want to stay just in the past, because the past has gone and I have a chance to shape the future, help others and contribute to Australia.”
Similarly, Sarab Shada was born and raised in Baghdad before she resettled in Sydney in 2019.
“Growing up in Iraq, there were no places for me to use my voice apart from the local church. So, I joined the church choir and sang with them for several years until my travels began.”
“Since arriving in Australia, I’ve completed my international certification as an English language teacher while going through the lengthy process of recognising my international degree,” she said.
The impacts of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed contemporary society as we once knew it. But these impacts are being felt on a much greater scale in refugee communities.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations believes a whole-of-community approach is the key to future success.
For the first time in 75 years, the entire world faces the same enemy: #COVID19.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) June 12, 2021
There’s a new understanding that whether it’s the pandemic or the climate crisis, we are all in this together – and #OnlyTogether will we get out of it.
Likewise, Ms Steer says 2020 was a devastating year for new internal displacements.
“2020 saw disasters trigger more than 30 million new internal displacements, the highest number in a decade and more than three times the displacements triggered by conflict and violence.”
In fact, 34,400 refugees were resettled to third countries in 2020. This is a 69 per cent drop from the previous year.
“COVID has dramatically magnified the risks in the past year, including many people stuck in desperate situations and finding it difficult to get proper help. It’s clear the impact on displaced people will be with us for years to come,” Ms Steer says.
Who hosts refugees?
In the Sahel region of Africa, which lies between the Sahara and the Sudanian Savanna, nearly 750,000 people were newly displaced last year.
The UNHCR believes it is one of the most complex regional crises worldwide. In Ethiopia, more than 750,000 people were displaced last year. Around 54,000 people fled the Tigray region into Sudan.
But where else do these refugees travel to? Turkey hosted nearly 3.7 million refugees last year. Similarly, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda and Germany all took over one million refugees.
But Ms Steer says cross-sector collaboration and shared responsibility is the key.
“Governments, the private sector, corporations and individuals all have a part to play in keeping refugees safe,” Ms Steer says.
Are we doing enough?
World Refugee Day 2021 gives us the chance to reflect and think about how we can make the world a better place.
We know that there are people behind the statistics, and the data shows us that the global situation has worsened in recent times.
A 2017 survey from World Vision found that 91 percent of young people want to do more to help refugees. While, 14 percent believe Australia is doing enough.
But there are many small steps that we can make to raise awareness and funds for refugees.
This week, people took part in the 2021 Ration Challenge. It involves people eating the same rations that as Syrian refugees in Jordan for one week. This consists of 1.9 kilograms of rice, 170 grams of lentils, and 85 grams of dried chickpeas.
The Shoe Project, also encourages refugees and immigrants to improve their communication skills and work towards their goals in Canada. The program shows how footwear can make or break a journey, and shape a new future through interactive writing workshops.
The UNHCR also relies on generous donations and support from communities around the world.
Times may be tough for many, but World Refugee Day is a stark reminder of the vast inequality that many face on a daily basis.
Whether you are able to donate, or take part in one of the many grassroots programs, or not; take the time to think about the millions of displaced people, and their families on this World Refugee Day 2021.
“Woman. Life. Freedom,” Iran protests now on the world’s stadium
Protests are engulfing Iran as a revolution against oppression spills onto the global stage, with the world unable to turn a blind eye
In Iran, protests are engulfing the country as thousands take to the streets in a revolution against oppression.
Women are cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, demanding some form of change to the strict rules that impact their ultimate freedom.
From the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the nation’s residents have witnessed their fair share of turmoil.
Many insist that religion, like Islam, is being used as a reason to violate basic human rights in Iran.
Women in the country and around the world, are now lifting the veil on Iran’s corruption.
For nearly forty years, women in Iran have faced a life of control and oppression. Subject to the strict Islamic Republic rules, bound by religion.
There have been protests in Iran before, but nothing like what we see today.
Women and men are filling the streets of the entire country, in a show of solidarity against the regime, putting their lives on the line.
Footage of Iranian women burning the hijabs and cutting their hair has encapsulated social media.
Spilling onto the global stage
The uprising against the regime in Iran and its treatment of women is openly and loudly spilling onto the global stage.
Its voice is so powerful it is even flooding into the sporting arena. In Qatar, Iranian soccer players refused to sing their national anthem before their World Cup game.
While the move from the sporting stars was seen by a global audience, a cloud of fear now looms over the safety and wellbeing of the players returning to their homeland.
As history shows us, sport has often been used as an avenue to express a political stance.
At the 1968 Mexico Olympics, U.S. athlete Tommie Smith raised his black-gloved fist, in defiance of racial segregation.
This is perhaps one of the most iconic moments, illustrating the blurred line between politics and sport.
UN finally calls out Iran
During the Iran protests, footage of authorities using brutal force against protestors sparked global attention and outrage.
Now, the United Nation has called out Iran’s actions.
At its 35th special session, the UN Human Rights Council launched a new investigation. It will independently investigate alleged human rights violations during the protests.
Is Musk flushing Twitter down the drain?
Elon Musk has made plenty of changes to Twitter, but will it make or break the social media platform?
When Elon Musk walked into Twitter with a sink you knew things were about to get interesting.
It’s been a chaotic few weeks of change for the social media platform. Musk quickly showed thousands of employees the door.
Noticeably, he also upended the iconic ‘blue tick’ hierarchy.
The new boss is adamant in making the platform a place of free speech, often using public Twitter polls to dictate his next move.
It’s not very often you have a billionaire and CEO of a tech giant communicate with people everyday via a tweet thread.
While people have been quick to judge Musk’s changes, he remains one of the most successful businessmen in history.
He lead the charge on flying to space with his SpaceX empire and was ahead of the game in the electric vehicle market.
Perhaps, the changes to the platform are a smart move for the company to succeed, despite the abruptness of them.
Proof is in the pudding because the numbers show Twitter has added 1.6 million daily users this week alone, which is an all-time high.
Plus World Cup traffic hit almost 20,000 tweets per second today, breaking another record.
It’s likely Twitter may be more successful in private hands. Financially though, the company has declined, causing widespread concern about its economic stability.
Musk wants to vastly increase the revenue the company makes through subscriptions, but a question mark looms over its ability to triumph.
Suspended accounts debate
Previously, Twitter had banned the accounts of many users, particularly those prone to far-right rhetorics.
Former President Donald Trump’s account had been suspended for nearly a year, alongside conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and controversial Andrew Tate.
Musk asked his followers in a poll if Twitter should “offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts? As Musk says, they haven’t broken the law?”
It all follows a turbulent economic time for the social media giant as it finds its place in the ever changing cyber sphere.
Whether or not Twitter goes down the drain, remains to be seen.
But love him or hate him, Musk has created an entertaining platform, with millions flocking to get a taste of what is the Twitter saga.
Does Donald Trump need Twitter to win in 2024?
Donald Trump is making a political comeback in 2024, but can he gain relevance without Twitter?
Donald Trump is making his political comeback, and Twitter boss Elon Musk has welcomed the former President back to the platform with open arms.
It was only a matter of weeks after taking over that Musk decided to lift Trump’s nearly year-long suspension.
Many expected Trump to jump at the offer and begin flooding our Twitter feeds again.
However, the former President may not want to return to Twitter, but why?
U.S. Commentator Susan Tehrani believes Trump’s decision to withhold his return to Twitter comes back to money.
Twitter was Trump’s favourite app when he was President. He used the platform to drum up support and create buzz. Love him or hate him, Trump undeniably had people right around the world speaking about his latest thought.
In today’s society, people consume news via social media, in particular via Twitter.
With Trump absent from Twitter, it raises question about how he will maintain relevance in social media sphere in the lead up to his 2024 return.
Trump heads his own social media platform ‘Truth Social’, but it has just four million users, opposed to Twitter’s more than 200 million.
Does Twitter need Trump, more than Trump needs Twitter?
With Musk at the reigns of Twitter, the social media giant is shifting its direction. Musk has made it clear he doesn’t believe in the previous ‘blue tick’ hierarchy, quickly scrapping the process.
He has been vocal about his desire for free speech on the platform. However, many are concerned that the changes may have a negative impact.
Although, change isn’t always a bad thing and perhaps Twitter needed a makeover, to keep up with today’s evolving society and array of opinions.
While Twitter is still popular, Musk’s move to reinstate Donald Trump’s account might have been strategic.
Trump is a bold politician, and regardless of his Twitter status, many are wondering what his next move will be.
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