20 June each year is United Nations World Refugee Day. In the UK, it is included in Refugee Week, 19-25 June. The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, just released new figures showing that 2016 was yet another record year for refugees.
The UNHCR's Global Trends Report announces that 65.6 million people were displaced in 2016, a figure that has almost doubled in 10 years. Of those, 40.3 million are internally displaced (they have had to flee their homes and regions but are still in their home country), and 22.5 million are recognised refugees and a further 2.8 million are awaiting a decision on their asylum request.
Children make up 51% of refugees (as opposed to 31% of the world population).
55% of refugees came from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan.
The UN and other agencies work hard to spread awareness of this issue, including with younger people. The following resources are suitable for class use: a spoken word poem and portraits about the objects refugees took with them; a speech by UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie; the story of the 2016 Refugee Olympic Team, including Syrian teenager Yusra Mardini, who was recently named a Goodwill Ambassador herself:
A child refugee in Iraq. EU/ECHO/Peter Biro
> ‘What They Took With Them’: Refugee Poem
> Olympic Refugee Team Teaching Tools