On June 20, the world commemorates World Refugee Day to show solidarity with the globe’s refugees. The holiday is the brainchild of the UNCHR, which launched the #WithRefugees petition in June 2016 to urge governments to work together and do their part to help.
About the world’s refugees
According to the agency, approximately 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced by the end of 2019, an increase of 2.3 million people over the previous year. That number includes 25.9 million refugees, 41.3 million individuals internally displaced and 3.5 million seeking asylum.
In fact, 1 in every 108 people globally is either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.
More than half of the 25.9 million refugees are under age 18. Millions more are stateless people, individuals who have been denied a nationality and access to education, healthcare, freedom and other basic rights.
Turkey, Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan and Germany are the top refugee-hosting countries as of June 2019.
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While the United States has historically led the way with global refugee resettlement, in January 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning entry to individuals from countries deemed high-risk, including some of the world’s largest producers of refugees, from entering the U.S.
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The number of Syrian refugees allowed into the U.S. in fiscal 2016 was 12,587. In fiscal 2018, the country admitted 62. The Syrian conflict has produced more refugees — over 13 million — than any other conflict. It is currently in its eighth year of war.
“In the midst of the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II, the US is on pace to resettle roughly 21,000 refugees in 2018. According to State Department data, which measures in fiscal years (October to September), that would be the lowest since 1977,” GlobalCitizen.com reported.
How to help refugees in Atlanta
Georgia is among the top 10 states for refugee resettlement, but numbers of new arrivals have declined in recent years. Data from the federal Refugee Processing Center, which is part of the State Department, found only 755 refugees have arrived in the state as of May 2019. Compare that to the nearly 1,000 in the last three months of 2016.
Friends of Refugees, a Clarkston-based Christian Community Development Organization aimed at empowering refugees through employment, education and well-being, offers volunteer orientations twice a month, usually the second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and on the last Tuesday of the month from 6-8:30 p.m. Learn more at friendsofrefugees.com. Opportunities include:
- Volunteer at summer camps or after-school programs
- Help teach English
- Participate in the labor doula program
- Cook meals
- Create handcrafted items via the Refugee Sewing Society
- Help refugees launch businesses through the StartME business accelerator
Volunteer instructions at friendsofrefugees.com.
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The International Rescue Committee in Atlanta works with government bodies, local volunteers and civil society actors to help refugees "translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities." Opportunities include:
- Help youth and young adults prepare for standardized tests like the GED and SAT
- Teach English to refugees in an ESOL program
- Pick up and deliver large donations via the donations coordinator and logistics department
- Help non-native English speakers understand U.S. civics
- Assist with women's literacy classes (financial, medical, housing, employment) geared toward newly-arrived women and their families
- Child care
- Tutor refugee and American students in grades 9-12
- Teach computer literacy to students
- Participate in a professional mentorship program
Volunteer instructions at rescue.org.
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New American Pathways in Atlanta ensures that refugees can contribute their skills to "strengthen the American workforce and help Georgia thrive." The organization offers several dates and times of orientations for interested volunteers. Opportunities include:
- Join the PathDriver fundraiser campaign to raise money for critical funding
- Teach English at refugee homes
- One-on-one tutoring
- Family tutoring
- Help refugees prepare for the citizenship exam
Volunteer instructions at newamericanpathways.org.
Catholic Charities Atlanta helps local refugees achieve economic and social self-sufficiency within their first six months in the country.Opportunities include:
- Teach English
- Assist with grant writing
- Volunteer at events
- Sort donations
- Mentor a refugee family
- Spanish to English translator
- Group volunteering with Hands on Atlanta
Volunteer instructions at catholicharitiesatlanta.org.
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World Relief Atlanta helps refugees rebuild their lives through resettlement services, employment services and immigrant legal services. Volunteers are required to join orientation beforehand. Opportunities include:
- Assist staff in gathering donations and fundraising
- Greet and welcome incoming refugees and families at airport
- Help with transportation to medical appointments
- Assist with grocery shopping
- Teach them how to navigate public transit
- Teach English
- Be a cultural or community guide to help refugees learn about their new home
Volunteer instructions at worldreliefatlanta.org.
Make monetary donations
Make non-cash donations
- Friends of Refugees: stock, vehicles and land. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678-404-0278 for more information.
- International Rescue Committee Atlanta: Clothing (men's small, men's shoes); winter coats (small, medium); household and kitchen items; toiletries; towels and linens; non-perishable food; strollers; backpacks; school supplies; sofas; love seats; armchairs; dining tables and dining chairs. Contact Duncan de la Feld at email@example.com or 678-636-8928 for more information.
- World Relief Atlanta: Vehicles; couches; kitchen tables and chairs; coffee tables; dressers; dinnerware; blankets; sponges. cleanser; toothpaste and tissue paper. Contact John Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-294-4352 for more information.
Support refugee businesses or businesses employing local refugees.
Have more ways to help local refugees? Let us know in the comments.
Learn more about refugees at unrefugees.org.