Every year June 20 is observed as World Refugee Day by the United Nations to draw attention to the plight of all refugees worldwide, honour their resilience, and mobilise political will to better their condition.
Presently, thousands of people are without a home due to reasons ranging from internal strife, war, persecution in a country, or water and climate crisis. United Nations observes this day to build empathy for refugees who live the most precarious lives, struggling daily to find the basic amenities.
As many as 82.4 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced by the end of 2020 due to persecution, violence, conflict, human rights violations or events alarming public order, as per the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The total has doubled in a decade and means more than 1% of the world's population is displaced.
Turkey hosts the most refugees globally, with 3.6 million displaced people, followed by Columbia, which shelters 1.8 million refugees.
India shelters 2,10,201 refugees, according to their January 2020 India Factsheet. Though it is home to a large number of refugees, the country is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention or the 1967 Protocol. Nor does India have a refugee policy or a refugee law of its own.
The closest it has come to a policy is the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, which discriminates between refugees on the basis of religion in offering them Indian citizenship. It resulted in large-scale protests across the country and triggered riots in Delhi in which 53 people lost their lives.
Since the coup in Myanmar in February this year, there has been an influx of people into Mizoram and other northeastern states. Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland are currently sheltering approximately 16,000 people from Myanmar, civil society groups and government officials estimate, with the number expected to rise in coming months.
History Of World Refugee Day
On June 20, 2001, the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention or 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, United Nations first celebrated World Refugee Day. Earlier, June 20 was celebrated as African Refugee Day, but it was changed to World Refugee Day in December 2000.
The Theme of World Refugee Day 2021
'Together we heal, learn, and shine' is this year's World Refugee Day theme. According to The Hindustan Times, the United Nations said that the Covid-19 pandemic has made it evident that the human race can only succeed by standing together. The UN has also urged for the greater inclusion of refugees in the healthcare system across the world.
Three Major Refugee Crises In The World Right Now
Syrian refugee crisis: It is the world's largest refugee crisis of all time. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, lakhs of people have died, and millions have fled. According to the UN Refugee Agency, 5,611,491 Syrians are living as refugees in different countries.
Afghanistan refugee crisis: Due to years of unemployment, insecurity and political instability in Afghanistan, more than 2.5 million people are estimated to be living in prolonged displacement, while more than 2.7 million people have been forced to leave the country to Iran, Pakistan or other countries in Europe.
The Rohingya crisis: The Rohingyas are counted among the world's most persecuted communities. They have faced persecution for decades. But the government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognise them as a people. It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In August 2017, violence broke out in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state causing several lakh people to flee from Myanmar. A UN report published in August 2018 accused Myanmar's military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with "genocidal intent". Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, known as the world's largest refugee camp, provides shelter to around 7,42,000 Rohingyas, with half of them being children. Approximately 9,32,000 Rohingya are seeking refuge in Bangladesh presently.