The world is in the middle of the most serious refugee crisis since the Second World War. More than 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes by terrifying conflicts , violence and persecution, with millions more fleeing natural disasters and poverty.
In 2015, Europe saw more than one million people arrive at its borders as they escaped the unimaginable horrors of war, persecution or impossible living conditions. Many had risked their lives on treacherous journeys in search of safety.
The majority of displaced individuals and families however remain within their own countries or in resource-stretched neighboring countries or camps.
These are not refugees and migrants. These are people.
Behind these figures – almost too large to comprehend – sit the painful and personal stories of individuals and families who have seen their lives destroyed by circumstances beyond their control. They've lost their homes, their jobs and sometimes their loved ones.
Families are routinely separated, with parents often unable to find their children. Many have left everything behind, often taking only the few possessions they can carry or with just the clothes they fled in.
In many countries in which refugees are currently living:
- They aren’t allowed to work and risk being deported or sanctioned in other ways if they are caught trying to make a living.
- In some cases they have no means to buy essentials. Some end up living in squalid conditions with not enough food, clean water or proper sanitation.
- Children are often not able to go to school, which can mean generations are denied education.
- Women and children are often particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
Despite all this many people cannot even contemplate returning to their homes because it would be too dangerous.
Our values, our legal obligations, our responsibility
Migration is not a threat to be stopped, it is a complex phenomenon to be managed.
Worldwide, Oxfam is helping hundreds of thousands of people who have been forced to flee their homes in order to survive, including people in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. But this crisis is far too big to solve alone. To save and protect lives, we need governments worldwide to meet their obligations, to act together and responsibly.
But right now the world's richest countries are failing to provide adequate assistance and protection to these vulnerable people, and to uphold their fundamental human rights, while poorer countries are hosting the majority of refugees around the world.
They can and should do much more to help.
Make your voice count
Everyone has the right to be safe and to be treated with dignity. But when people are on the move, they are often at their most vulnerable. Their safety and protection, their need for food, shelter and health care are the responsibility of our governments.
That is why Oxfam is appealing to you to join our movement, to stand as one with people who have fled their homes, and demand that governments play their fair part in tackling this crisis.
Together we can make a difference by protecting and standing in solidarity with people who are thrust into poverty by circumstances beyond their control. Together we can make sure world leaders guarantee them safety, protection and a dignified future.