Nearly 60 million people around the globe are displaced from their homes due to war, conflict, and persecution.
That’s the highest number ever on record– one in every 122 humans on this planet.
And the responsibility of sheltering refugees disproportionately falls upon poor countries. The UN’s Refugee Agency estimates that 86% of the world’s refugees are sheltered by developing countries such as Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon.
Lebanon alone is single-handedly hosting around the same number of refugees who took shelter in all of Europe in 2015.
It is a complex and difficult situation: refugees arrive in countries already stricken by economic challenges, and the systems in place to process and integrate them are not equipped to handle so many people. There are legitimate security and integration challenges host countries must grapple with to ensure safe resettlement. And the resettlement process is made more complicated by widespread misinformation, racism, and apathy.
I have followed the “refugee crisis” in Europe from my safe and distant harbor in Los Angeles for the past year. I’ve wondered about the humans behind the numbers, the circumstances that lead them to leave behind home and kin, and what life is like in the camps. It was with these questions in mind that I decided to volunteer at two refugee camps in Europe. Read more