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The refugee crisis is accelerating at an increasingly urgent rate. As people are entwined in war, economic collapse, and a wide array of persecution, many have no choice but to risk their lives and flee in hopes of a safer future. Unfortunately the plight of refugees has been politicized and myths abound, serving as barriers to our duty and humanity to help our fellow man and woman.  So let’s clear up some myths, shall we?

Myth #1: The United States, Europe and Australia are being flooded with refugees.  

The media regularly shows refugees landing in Italy or Greece after a perilous Mediterranean crossing, while in the US, the Texas border experiences a flood of people fleeing Central America.  These are true depictions.  However, the data shows that 80% of the world’s refugees are in countries neighboring the one they fled.  For instance, according to UNHCR, the 6.6 million people who escaped war in Syria are now registered in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, and most who fled South Sudan are now in Sudan or Uganda.  

More than 67% of all refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and Venezuelans displaced abroad come from just five countries – Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar, while 39% of all refugees are hosted in five countries – Turkey, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda and Germany.

Myth #2: Refugees leave their countries to find better jobs

‘Immigrants’ may, but ‘refugees’ are most likely people running for their lives, crossing international borders and putting themselves and their families at great risk. Therefore, these risks are rarely faced by those people who move to a new country in search of a better life.  As such, one of the most essential principles established in international law is that refugees should not be forced to go back to areas where their life would be under threat.

Myth #3:  Refugees have access to education in countries of asylum

For each additional year people stay in school, data suggest that earning potential increases 5% to 10%.  Globally, 34% of university-age youth are in school, but that figure for refugees is just 1%.  Only 61% of refugee children have access to primary education, compared to an international average of 91%. At secondary level, 23% of refugee teenagers go to school, compared to 84% globally.

How can you impact change?  Consider volunteering your time or gifting your resources.

  • UNHCR (The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
  • International Rescue Committee 
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • Unicef
  • Save the Children