Each year on 20 June is World Refugee Day, a day dedicated to people who have been forced to leave their homes, safety and countries behind. This year, the number of displaced people in the world is higher than any year since the end of World War II, says a new UNHCR report.
There are over 50 million refugees in the world today, including those who have left their countries and those who are internally displaced. An increase since 2012, when the total number of displaced people was 45 million.
Migration and displacement have been part of human life since history; yet each refugee’s displacement remains a life-changing, often devastating, event.
Three main conflicts have pushed those numbers up: the crisis in South Sudan, the fighting in Central African Republic — and the war in Syria. As many as 9 million Syrians are estimated to have fled their homes since the conflict began; many remain within the borders of Syria but over 2,8 million have fled to Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
Funding is a major issue that stops neighbouring governments and organisations from reaching out to people — UNHCR reports that only 27% of the total appeal has been received.
In tiny Lebanon, with a population of about 4,5 million, the number of registered Syrian refugees has topped 1 million. Many more reside in the country without being registered — out of fear, or because it’s hard to register. Today, about one in four in Lebanon is a Syrian national.
Today, on the occasion of World Refugee Day, we are sharing photo work by Oliver Tooke, who spent time this spring documenting the situation for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.