On World Humanitarian Day, UNHCR invites Filipinos to be ‘Messengers of Humanity’
(Philstar.com) - August 17, 2015 - 8:25pm

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is no stranger to crises which displace humans on a massive scale. In 2013, the Philippines contributed significant levels of new displacement caused by conflict or violence worsened by the impact of natural hazards. In Mindanao, around 286,200 people fled their habitual place of residence, of whom over 187,800 were still displaced as of June 2015.

Conflict-related displacement took place in Mindanao where at least 3.5 million internally displaced persons have been recorded since 2000. The combined impact of internal armed conflict and natural hazards like super typhoon Haiyan ranked the Philippines among the top 12 countries with new highest displacement figures in 2013.

Elsewhere in the world, more people are being driven out of their homes by conflicts, forced to flee under similar or even worse circumstances.

Record number of displaced people worldwide

Data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) showed that last year alone, about 59.5 million individuals were displaced by conflict—the highest number ever recorded in history. The displaced people are about five times the population of Metro Manila, and almost equal to the entire population of Italy or the United Kingdom.

New crises have broken out in the Middle East and Africa and unresolved conflicts continue to take a toll on the lives of citizens in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Syria and other countries. Suffering and massive displacement have also become commonplace in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ukraine and Iraq, countries where new conflicts have erupted over the last year.

UNHCR snackable infographic

With the eruption and escalation of conflicts in different areas of the world, 2014 has seen an unprecedented growth in the number of refugees seeking relief from persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations.

"For an age of unprecedented mass displacement, we need an unprecedented humanitarian response and a renewed global commitment to tolerance and protection for people fleeing conflict and persecution," said Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Making the world a better place for the displaced

At the core of UNHCR's mandate are the protection of refugees all over the world and finding durable solutions to the plight of refugees. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the UNHCR's Executive Committee affirm this mandate, along with regional instruments aimed at finding permanent solutions to the global refugee problem.

UNHCR implements durable solutions to address the plight of persons displaced by conflict. These include voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration.

Hundreds of refugees come across the border from Syria into Jordan at remote eastern desert locations such as those at Riqban and Hadalat -- tiny Jordanian military outposts where the border patrol are the first to meet the new arrivals. Upon arrival, the exhausted refugees receive water and UNHCR and ICRC food packages before being loaded into trucks and transported to processing centers, and ultimately on to Azraq Camp.? © UNHCR/Jared Kohler

"It is important to emphasize that the ultimate aim of all refugees is to find a durable solution to their plight. Unfortunately, many continue to remain in exile, where such goals are far from reality," UNHCR noted.

In 2014, a total of 126,800 refugees returned to their country of origin, virtually all of them with UNHCR assistance. In addition, UNHCR offices in 80 countries presented more than 103,800 refugees to states for resettlement consideration. That year, 27 countries reported the granting of citizenship to some 32,100 refugees, notably in Canada (27,200), France (2,400), the United Republic of Tanzania (1,500) and Ireland (560).

Despite the risks, UNHCR’s frontline staff who are in hotspots across the world continue to deliver life-saving assistance and protect millions of people.

Practicing humanity

This World Humanitarian Day, the UN Refugee Agency is celebrating all of the humanitarians—from donors, to dedicated staff, network of committed volunteers and supportive locals in host countries—who are doing their bit, working hard and making the world a little easier for the millions of children, women and men who have been forced to flee.

In an effort to improve the lives of displaced persons worldwide, UNHCR is inviting everyone to take part in celebrating World Humanitarian Day (WHD) on August 19. With the theme "Inspiring the World's Humanity," WHD is a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others, as well as to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe.

UNHCR Senior Field Assistant Tamara Bakez conducts home visits and follow-up assessments with refugee families in Amman, Jordan. The main purpose is to assess if refugee families meet UNHCR's extremely strict criteria for cash assistance, which is targeted at the most vulnerable families -- primarily households headed by women or the elderly. © UNHCR/Sebastian Rich

World Humanitarian Day was started after a day of heartbreak and loss. Every year, this special day falls on August 19, the day in 2003 when 22 aid workers were killed and over 100 were injured in a bombing at the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

UNHCR Philippines is calling on individuals to visit its booth at the 4th floor of Trinoma from August 17 to 23 to know more about how they can help in the global effort to make the world a better place for displaced people. The UNHCR booth features a replica of emergency shelter, photo wall, interactive digital games and other information that will shed light on the status of displaced people and the number of ways they can be supported.

Watch the video below to find out how you can be part of this cause:


Filipinos helping refugees: A noble tradition, a way to give back

'We find meaning in what we do' - aid worker in Mindanao

Philippines lauded for willingness to save 'boat people'

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