Landscape showing drought conditions

This article appeared in the King Weekly Sentinel on July 22, 2021.

United Nations announced that an unprecedented  number of people have been forced to flee their homes.  More than 82.4 million men, women and children have  had their worlds turned upside down by war, violence  and persecution.  

A few days later on World Refugee Day, June 20,  UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi  commented, “While the rest of us spent much of the last  year at home to stay safe, they had to run from their  homes just to stay alive. …  

“In the past three years alone, some one million  children were born into a life of exile. What will their  futures hold? What opportunities will they have to  achieve their potential?… “ 

To mark the same special day, UNHCR Special  Envoy, Ms. Angelina Jolie, thanked the people at the  Goudoubo Camp in Burkina Faso, Africa for welcoming  her there and this is the rest of what she said: 

“Today is World Refugee Day. I have marked this  day every year for twenty years with refugees in different  countries.I have never been as worried about the state of  displacement globally as I am today. 

“Not only are there now over 82 million forcibly  displaced people worldwide, but the numbers have  doubled in a decade. 

“1 in 95 people – one percent of humanity – are  displaced, and the numbers are rising.

“We have to wake up to the track we are on globally,  with so many conflicts raging and the very real possibility  that climate change will force tens if not hundreds of  millions of people to have to leave their homes in the  future, with no possibility of return. 

“It is not that we are at a breaking point – this is  broken.The way we as an international community try to  address conflict and insecurity is broken. 

“It is erratic, it is unequal, it is built on inherited  privilege, it is subject to the whim of political leaders, and  it is geared towards the interests of powerful countries,  including my own, at the expense of others. 

“Crimes committed against the women and children  of Burkina Faso, or Yemen, or Myanmar, or Ethiopia, for  example, are not enough to shake the established world  order to its foundations as they should be – and as they  would be, if they were happening in certain other parts of the world. 

“I have seen the conditions inflicted upon refugees  globally – the hunger and suffering and insecurity and  lack of aid, let alone justice – because we pick and  choose which conflicts to pay attention to and for how  long; because governments turn a blind eye to abuses  when it is convenient; and because we as individual  citizens feel powerless to change that. 

“There are some leaders who want us to believe that  we can’t take care of our own people and help displaced  people; who suggest that even though the vast majority  of all refugees are hosted by countries in the global  south, we in rich countries have somehow been asked to  do too much and would be justified in doing even less. Or 

that millions of people being forced to flee their homes by  war and food insecurity and climate disasters has  nothing to do with us and our actions or choices over  generations. 

“All these arguments evaporate standing here. “The truth is we are not doing half of what we could  and should to find solutions to enable refugees to return  home – or to support host countries, like Burkina Faso,  coping for years with a fraction of the humanitarian aid  needed to provide basic support and protection. “The burden is falling on displaced people, whose  rights and life chances are stolen. It is falling on children  – on tens of millions of displaced children. 

And it is falling on the people of countries like Burkina  Faso and other developing nations. 

“This is where the humanity and decency of the  world is measured. Where human strength and resilience  are most clearly and starkly seen. Not in the world’s  gleaming capitals, but in places like this. 

“There is nowhere I would rather be today than here,  with refugees, the people I admire most in the world. Thank you for allowing me be with you today, on this  World Refugee Day.” Submitted by Ann Raney, a team member at King for  Refugees. KfR is a registered charity that maintains its  grassroots focus by gathering all the goodwill in King  Township for welcoming newcomers to this part of  Canada. We all can help people forced from their homes,  unable to return, to begin anew. If you would like to learn more about KfR, please email