Refugee issues and who refugees are are big subjects, and to explain everything would take much more than a single page on a website.

But you can get a solid foundation of what the matter actually entails by grasping a few basic facts and ideas. 

That's why we made this.

 

What is a refugee?

A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. 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.

 

Why is this a big deal?

Over 65,000,000 people have been forced to leave their homes to date, and due to climate change, that number is expected to grow to over 230,000,000 people in the next 30 years.

All of these people did nothing to deserve being uprooted from their homes.

 

Where are refugees coming from? Where are they going?

You may be familiar with the fact that lots of refugees are coming from Syria, but they're also coming from all over the world: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Burma, Bhutan, Eritrea, El Salvador, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Russia, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba, Vietnam, Nepal, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and more. 

The NYTimes has an excellent interactive map that shows this vividly.

 

Why do I keeping hearing so much about Syria?

Due to a civil war, there are currently more refugees from Syria than anywhere else in the world (~5M), but the refugee issue is one that has been affecting our world for decades before this particular war. 

You can learn more about the how the war has affected Syrian people in the last 6 years here: Searching for Syria. An interesting take on why the Syrian war gets more coverage than other wars here.

 

Why are refugees and terrorism so often in the same sentence?

Refugees are often escaping persecution and conflict that is caused by terrorism. Naturally, this means they sometimes come from countries that are affected severely by terrorism, and it's far easier to generalize a whole class of people than it is to recognize that people that come from places with terrorism are not the same as terrorists. 

Refugees who are being resettled through government agencies go through rigorous background checks that take years to complete.

 

What kinds of people are refugees anyway?

Over half of refugees are under the age of 18. Most of them are women and children, and they are just like you — students, musicians, lawyers, etc.. In fact, some of them are Olympic athletes, famous musicians and writers.

Some organizations work to pair refugees with people who share a similar trade to help them build connections.

Here’s a series on VICE that was curated by young refugees across Europe.

 

How can I connect with refugees near me?

If you're in the USA, you can reach out to your local resettlement agency to get involved. Here’s a list of them with contact information, made by Hello Neighbor. There are even more local resources that are searchable by state on the Office of Refugee Resettlement's site here.

If you live outside the USA and have another database that you'd like for us to list here, please email it over to hithere@weekofwelcome.org!