The most recent figures show that there are more than 25 million refugees worldwide — men, women and children who needed to flee their countries for a variety of reasons. But refugees are just part of the displacement story; about 35-40 million more people — most of them women and children — are displaced within their own countries, making the total displaced population more than 60 million people. That’s almost twice the entire population of Canada.
But putting these numbers into perspective with Canadian statistics helps us understand the gravity of the situation, and brings it home from what can sometimes seem like far-off places we feel disconnected. About two thirds of the world’s refugees live in just 10 countries and most of the world’s refugees are sheltered in the so-called global south.
“With the current influx of Syrian refugees, countries in the global north are just getting a taste of what those in the global south have been experiencing,” explains Alex Neve, a global refugee expert and secretary general for Amnesty International Canada.
Many of us are aware of the situation in Syria, where there are more than four million refugees outside the nation and about eight million displaced within it. All have had to flee their homes because of terrible violence and life-threatening human rights violations. However, many people are not aware of the desperate plight of refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Congo and the Central African Republic.
Neve says that with 2.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, almost one in five people in that country is a refugee.
“Imagine if that were Canada, and how many million people that would be here,” says Neve. He believes the Canadian government can and should accept more refugees and that doing so is not just beneficial for refugees, but is also good for our country and our communities.
Find more information, including how you can help, at www.amnesty.ca/refugees