Friday, June 26, 2009

World Refugee Day

June 20, 2009 was World Refugee Day to mark the plight of the 42 million people around the world that have been uprooted from their homes and are struggling to survive. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports of 42 million displaced includes 16 million refugees and asylum seekers and 26 million internally displaced people uprooted within their own countries.
Of the global total of uprooted people, UNHCR cares for 25 million, including a record 14.4 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 10.5 million refugees. The other 4.7 million refugees are Palestinians under the UN Relief and Works Agency.
From the UNHCR 2009 annual report:
Developing countries hosted 80 percent of all refugees: Major refugee-hosting countries in 2008 included Pakistan (1.8 million); Syria (1.1 million); Iran (980,000); Germany (582,700), Jordan (500,400); Chad (330,500); Tanzania (321,900); and Kenya (320,600). Major countries of origin included Afghanistan (2.8 million) and Iraq (1.9 million), which together account for 45 percent of all refugees under UNHCR's responsibility. Other countries of origin included Somalia (561,000); Sudan (419,000); Colombia, including people in refugee-like situations (374,000), and D.R. Congo (368,000).
Here in Jordan, there is still a serious issue in regards to Iraqi Refugees although the numbers have definitely been reduced. At the peak of the crisis there were upwards of 1 million Iraqi refugees seeking safe haven in Jordan but now the numbers are closer to 150,000 Iraqi refugees residing in Jordan. While the Government of Jordan has loosened restrictions on the Iraqis, they are still considered guests not refugees, and they are still not legally allowed to work which results in the majority of the Iraqis falling well below the poverty line.
IRD is one of the main implementing partners of UNHCR in addressing the needs of the Iraqi refugees in Jordan. The IRD Outreach Services for Iraqi Refugees (OSIR) Program is the largest outreach program providing refugee protection assessments and assistance and tracking refugee assistance coverage throughout Jordan.
In commemoration of World Refugee Day, the IRD OSIR team held a large event for over 400 of our Iraqi beneficiaries. The event included Iraqi folklore music, clowns and jugglers, a magic show by an Iraqi magician, and an interactive play of a traditional Iraqi story. The event was a huge success!

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