Recognizing World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day - 2018 {The Little Market}Handwriting by Marisa Mangum

Today, we are recognizing World Refugee Day, which is observed each year on June 20. World Refugee Day is an opportunity to raise awareness for refugees around the world and call attention to their important stories and journeys.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.”

Recent statistics are reaching record highs since the UNHCR was founded in 1950. Below are trends and facts reported on by organizations such as the UNHCR.

1. UNHCR recently reported that 68.5 million people were reported as forcibly displaced from their homes. One person is forcibly displaced every two seconds.
2. Furthermore, more than half of all refugees are children under the ages of 18. More and more children are traveling by themselves when in search of safety.
3. More than 50 percent of refugees are fleeing war.
4. At the end of 2016, Syria continued to have the largest forcibly displaced population out of any other country in the world, according to the UNHCR. This number — 12 million people — is more than than half of the Syrian population.
5. When considering refugee children and non-refugee children, refugee children are five times more likely to not be in school.
6. For higher education, only one percent of refugees enroll in a college or university.
7. As of 2016, one in 100 people throughout the world were displaced from their homes. This is the highest recorded percentage since the UNHCR first collected statistics in 1951, according to the Pew Research Center.
8. As of 2017, Turkey continued to be the largest country hosting refugees throughout the world with Pakistan being the second-largest, according to NPR.
9. “On average, 20 people were driven from their homes every minute last year, or one every three seconds — less than the time it takes to read this sentence,” according to the U.N. based on 2016 statistics.
10. Over the last five years, the number of people fleeing for safety from Central American countries has grown tenfold.

At The Little Market, we are committed to supporting sustainable income opportunities for marginalized and vulnerable populations including refugees and immigrants.

Prosperity Candle Artisans {John Polak Photography for Prosperity Candle}Photo by John Polak Photography for Prosperity Candle

We work with inspiring female refugees at Prosperity Candle in Western Massachusetts to create an exclusive collection of hand-poured candles. The social enterprise aims to help the women escape poverty and conflict through entrepreneurship as they learn how to make candles and work toward a brighter future. Every purchase of our candles benefits these admirable women who have resettled in the United States from refugee camps. Prosperity Candle provides them with essential resources and twice the living wage in Massachusetts. It is a pleasure to collaborate with them on our candles. 

In Dallas, Texas, GAIA works with female refugees while they create beautiful bags and accessories. GAIA aims to empower these marginalized refugee women through employment, encouragement, and dedication to their success. They create accessories from vintage textiles, earn a living wage, and receive training and skill development. We are happy to work with GAIA and these strong women.

We also carry two cookbooks that support refugees and immigrants. The Immigrant Cookbook supports the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and features recipes from 40 famous immigrant chefs. The Soup for Syria Cookbook helps fund food relief efforts through UNHCR and includes a variety of recipes from approximately 80 famous chefs.

Esperance's tent space in the camp {WomenCraft}Photo Courtesy of WomenCraft

More recently, we began working with WomenCraft on a collection of neutral woven baskets. WomenCraft is a social enterprise comprised of 24 artisan groups that include former refugee women, survivors of genocide, and HIV-positive artisans. Many of the artisans have lived in refugee camps for decades, and several were once struggling subsistence farmers. We are proud to work with WomenCraft and the artisans to create these beautiful baskets and help the artisans work toward a better future.

Please join us in supporting the refugee community. Together, we can use our voices and actions to create a positive impact in the lives of these vulnerable populations. To learn more about the current situation for refugees and for ideas on how you can help, please visit the resources below. 

CNN – World Refugee Day: What you should know
UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency – What is a Refugee?
UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency – Refugee Facts
UNHCR – Figures at a Glance
Pew Research Center – Key Facts about the World’s Refugees
NPR – Five Surprising Facts about the Refugee Crisis
USA Today – World Refugee Day: 65M people were forcibly displaced from their homes last year

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