Today is World Refugee Day. Today, we honor the millions of people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes and seek shelter in new and unfamiliar places. People become refugees for many different reasons. Some, like Nina, a jewelry designer from Odessa, Ukraine, flee due to conflict and war.
When the bombing began, Nina fled Ukraine with her mother and sister, sharing only a single suitcase between them. It took Nina and her family nine long hours to make it into the city of Lasi in Romania. Once she was settled in a refugee camp, Nina began to help other refugees find accommodation and resources.
She shared with us, “When they realize I’m Ukrainian, their faces light up. The other day I played a soccer game with the children, and it was impressive to see their smiles. I never imagined I would become a refugee. Nor that I could help others in this way.”
Other people, like Saafi, become climate refugees when they are forced to leave their homes due to climate-induced disasters. Previously, Saafi was a specialized butcher in Somaliland. However, she had to abandon her business and leave the place she and her daughter once called home in search of clean and consistent access to water since the drought has made everything scarce.
She shared with us: “When I was young the situation was not like this. Even the environment was so rich, people had a lot of animals at that time. That time there was support from neighbors, the relationship was good. Now all those things have stopped.”
For some, being a refugee can take on an entirely new meaning. The illegal occupation of Palestine has displaced generations of people, forcing them to rebuild both within and outside of their own country, often under unsafe circumstances.
15-year-old Janna, who started her career as the world’s youngest journalist, has been documenting the violations that Palestinian children are subjected to at the hands of the occupation since she was 7 years old. She shared: “Not a lot of people in the world know what we are feeling as Palestinian children, how unsafe we are in our own houses and what we go through every single day because of the occupation.”
We believe in advocating for fair policies that ensure a just world for all. That is why in each of these situations, ActionAid is present, working to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are protected, supported, and empowered. We strive to meet basic needs through the distribution of food, sanitary supplies, and hygiene kits for women and girls. And we guarantee longer-term support by creating safe spaces for women, offering counselling for survivors of gender-based violence, and providing resilience trainings so that women can lead their communities as only they know how.