Equity for Children would like to thank you for joining us in recognition of World Refugee Day, an annual observance day that rallies global public support to raise awareness and civic action aimed at addressing the struggles faced by millions of refugees today. This day also serves as a platform for the public to demand that governments take an active leadership role at the global level to uphold and protect the rights of people displaced in the wake of any number of hardships, ranging from natural disaster to armed conflict to ethnic violence and other forms of persecution.
“A refugee is someone who survived and who can create the future.”
– Amela Koluder
The dire conditions faced by refugees demand effective policy answers by the global community. Allowing the existence of any single individual under such strenuous conditions would constitute an inexcusable failure to fulfill our duty as governments, societies, and individuals, to defend and advocate for the rights we all possess as humans. That there are entire populations across the globe subjected to these circumstances is almost too grave a failure to contemplate, but we must if we are to learn from the shortcomings inherent in previous approaches.
We must take this day to speak up and join the discourse of advocacy to ensure that this issue receives the attention it is due as one of the most acute human rights failures in existence. However, it would be remiss to not also take a moment to commemorate the strength of will and perseverance that millions of refugees command on a daily basis. It is a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit that people seek new ways forward in the middle of catastrophe in order to fight for things many take for granted. Refugees, and forcibly displaced people more broadly, face immense obstacles to actualizing the simplest desire of all: to carve out a secure and nurturing environment in which to live, work, and learn with community and family close at hand.
Children in situations of conflict and displacement face extreme barriers to receiving the tools necessary for healthy physical and mental development. Already living within a daily context of stress that would be difficult for anyone to cope with, children face challenges such as inadequate nutrition, lack of safe space for play and exercise, lack of access to education, and lack of a stable environment with the necessary services for healthy growth. When compounded with hardships faced before displacement, and with any emotional turmoil or personal losses—of friends, family, community,—children’s capacity to reach their full potential is severely diminished along with their well-being. No child must be left behind in progress, and children in refugee situations must receive special policy attention, because they are in danger not only of having their rights left unacknowledged and unfulfilled, but also of remaining invisible in the data that informs policymakers when they live beyond the reach of household surveys and other methods of data collection.
We at Equity for Children are committed to developing innovative research methods to combat the exclusion of children who are in dire need of help but live far from the eyes of researchers and government actors. We are also committed in our research to ensuring that accurate and multifaceted evidence is available to identify the most pressing challenges children in situations of deprivation face so that policymakers can formulate meaningful measures that generate concrete positive impact in the lives of children worldwide.
Image: Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images