Today – Tuesday, June 20, 2017 – is World Refugee Day. Take a moment to consider the numbers behind the world refugee crisis. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):
- Each day, 28,300 people are forced to flee their home because of conflict and/or persecution.
- Approximately 65.6 million people have been forcibly displaced, worldwide.
- There are 22.5 million refugees around the world.
- Ten million are stateless.
- Only 189,300 refugees were resettled in 2016.
- Of all refugees, 16 percent are hosted in the US.
From Beirut to Belarus to the Vatican City, people around the world are coming together to celebrate and recognize refugees. Recognize is one thing; celebrate is another. Why celebrate? Because of the incredible endurance and fearlessness it takes to leave home, journey elsewhere, and begin again somewhere new.
What can you do to show your support for refugees right now?
- Sign a petition like this one, Stand #With Refugees, then share it with your friends and family.
- Join local initiatives that have a hand in assisting refugees. In Oshkosh, consider learning more about:
- World Relief Fox Valley: According to a recent Northwestern article, World Relief Fox Valley has been hard at work since the late 1990s. The agency helps refugees with “finding work, setting up bank accounts, enrolling children in school, and assisting with legal services.”
- Oshkosh Area United Way: United Way organizations work to increase health, education, and financial stability within the community, including newly resettled refugees.
- And the Winnebago County Literacy Council (WCLC): Our work is rooted in helping language learners become self-sufficient and “realize his or her potential through literacy.”
- Contact state legislators to let them know you care about refugees. See below for a complete list of phone numbers and mailing addresses for Wisconsin Congressional Representatives and Senators: Contact-Information-for-Wisc.-Congressional-Representatives-and-Senators.pdf
- Simply hear some of the harrowing stories of what it takes to leave home for the unknown with PBS Frontline’s “Exodus”
The plight of refugees around the world impacts you, and us, right here at home in the Fox Valley. When refugees arrive, we are enriched. Refugees can contribute to the overall diversity of our communities as with new and different cultures, languages, and views. Unfortunately, in January and again in March, two executive orders were signed severely limiting refugee entries. In terms of economics, the Fox Valley counts as an industrial hub with an excess of manufacturing jobs into the future. Needed is a workforce ready and willing to fill those jobs.
Refugees are eager to learn and work hard. At the core of WCLC’s mission is opportunity creation “for people to read, write, and speak English, and perform everyday skills with confidence.” Today and every day, WCLC stands #WithRefugees.