The world is faced with an unprecedented crisis that has never been witnessed before in history, a large exodus of people uprooted as a result of conflict or persecution. 65.3 million people have been forced to leave home, and within that number, nearly 21.3 million are refugees, and 10 million are stateless people who have been denied a nationality and basic rights.
According to UNHCR, about 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day. Not only are people uprooted from their homes and forced to flee because of the dangers they face, often times, this act of flight puts them in a very precarious situation. Leaving asylum seekers no choice but to take on treacherous journeys for the hope of a better future.
While the world may seem to think that refugee-producing countries are further away from home - Singapore, in our case - the numbers tell us a different story. Within Asia Pacific alone, there are 3.8 million refugees and 1.5 million stateless persons. This misconception that refugees mainly come from the Middle East and Africa is one of the many misconceptions this year’s Refugee Awareness Week (RAW) will be addressing. RAW is AFR-SG’s flagship event held in conjunction with the globally commemorated World Refugee Day on 20 June. Launched in 2016, the annual outreach and awareness event aims to catalyse community conversations on the topic of forced migration and galvanise Singaporeans into actions of hope for humanity. RAW is organised by local group Advocates for Refugees (AFR-SG), a ground up, volunteer-led movement working for the cause of refugees and forced migration in our region and beyond. This year’s event will be AFR-SG’s second RAW.
The sheer numbers of forcibly displaced persons worldwide and the harrowing details of a refugee’s experience we hear on the news can be overwhelming and disheartening, leaving us more fortunate individuals feeling helpless and alone, unsure on how to help. This is why this year’s RAW theme, Together, along with the hashtag #TogetherForHope, promotes the idea of unity. Highlighting the importance of showing solidarity in the face of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and the effectiveness of working together to achieve greater social change.
For this year’s RAW, AFR-SG is delighted to partner with LUSH, a company that has proven to be a champion of humanitarian causes, and campaigned for inclusivity and acceptance in diversity. LUSH’s belief that refugees have a right to movement, and to live and work makes them a perfect partner for this year’s RAW.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. The first step towards being a supporter of the cause is to show solidarity. RAW will be held from 20 June - 25 June. Like our Facebook page to get more updates on the upcoming events taking place during this week.
Written by: Shafeeqah Ahmad
We give our SOAPBOX pages to others to tell us their view of the world.
For more information about Refugee Awareness Week (RAW): https://www.facebook.com/refugeeweeksg/
For more information about the Schedule of Events for RAW 2017: https://tinyurl.com/refugeeweeksg2017
For more information about Advocates for Refugees - Singapore (AFR-SG): https://tinyurl.com/aboutAFRSG
UNHCR (2015), Global trends 2015: world at war: http://unhcr.org/556725e69.html
UNHCR (2016), Mixed Movements in South-East Asia: https://unhcr.atavist.com/mm2016