How can Filipinos share the gift of hope to millions of refugees?
How can Filipinos share the gift of hope to millions of refugees?
This season, UNHCR taps into Filipinos’ generosity to shelter at least two million refugees forced by conflict and violence to flee their homes

[Editor’s Note: The following is an announcement from UNHCR]

MANILA, Philippines – The world is witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, with unprecedented numbers forced to flee because of war, conflict, persecution, and natural disasters.

Today, more than 65 million live displaced – with many of them struggling to survive in desperate conditions that expose them to physical and emotional risks. According to the 2015 Global Trends Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 24 people on average are displaced per minute.

Many refugees make the difficult choice of leaving everything behind and even risking perilous journeys in order to reach safer haven. 2016 has so far proven to be the deadliest year for refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea to escape their war-torn countries. As of the end of October this year, a record-high 3,760 deaths have been recorded – a staggering loss of life that has never been seen before.

“We are facing the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Above all, this is not just a crisis of numbers; it is also a crisis of solidarity,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Syrian war as a driver of displacement

Over half the world’s refugees are children. In Syria, many are spending their childhoods away from home, sometimes separated from their families. Photo courtesy of UNHCR / A. McConnell

One of the primary drivers of displacement is the Syrian civil war, which continues to rage after six years. Since the war erupted, more than 6.6 million are internally displaced and 4.8 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries. Globally, a combined 70% of refugees and displaced families are hosted in the Middle East and in Africa.

Among those who fled is 41-year-old Amal, whose life has been marked by tragedy and strife over the last six years. Amal lost her husband, eldest son, and mother when their village was bombed; the only choice left was to search for safety outside Syria.

“My house was demolished. I left with only my children and two changes of clothes for each of them,” says Amal. “The kids miss their house, their room. I don’t miss anything from Syria. I have no one left there to miss. I don’t remember much of my home. I don’t like to think about it. It reminds me of what happened there. I miss people, not houses and walls.”

Today, Amal and her 3 children live as refugees in Jordan. They reside in one small room, which is far from perfect, but it is better than risking the bombs in Syria or life on the streets.

“This house means safety. I lost a lot of souls. I prefer being here than being unsafe. I want my children to get a good education, to be successful in life. I don’t want anything else, nothing for myself,” says Amal, whose name means “hope.”

Giving hope and shelter this season

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is at the forefront of providing life-saving aid, safeguarding fundamental rights, and securing durable solutions for vulnerable families forced to flee. UNHCR’s work can range from emergency coordination, camp management, cash assistance, the provision of core relief items, medical assistance, legal support, reunification, livelihood, and temporary and permanent shelter.

In 2016, UNHCR placed a special emphasis on its goal to shelter two million refugees by 2018. This massive undertaking is expected to cost $724 million, yet only USD 158 million is currently available. This dramatic shortfall threatens to leave millions without adequate shelter and unable to begin rebuilding their lives.

Over the past year, thousands of Filipinos have heeded UNHCR’s call to extend their compassion to refugees and displaced families.

In this season of giving, UNHCR is once again appealing to Filipinos to stand in solidarity with families forced to flee by giving them the gift of shelter. Through its “Nobody Left Outside” campaign, the UN Refugee Agency aims to restore hope and dignity in families forced to flee.

This season, UNHCR taps into Filipinos’ generosity to shelter at least two million refugees forced by conflict and violence to flee their homes. Photo courtesy of UNHCR / S. Rich

The consequences of being denied a proper shelter can be profound – refugee families face risks to their health and safety. They are without a safe space to eat, to sleep, to store the few belongings they have, to come to terms with what has happened to them, or to begin restoring their lives.

“Shelter is the foundation stone for refugees to survive and recover, and a non-negotiable human right,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “As we tackle the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War 2, no refugee should be left outside.”

Shelter is so much more than just a roof; it brings a private family space, a place to build a livelihood, a future and a community. As temperatures drop this November and December, refugee families also need urgent help to survive the winter. Without robust and weatherproof shelter, refugees are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, pneumonia and associated health conditions.

The number of people depending on UNHCR for life-saving shelter far outstrips the funding it has at its disposal. This season, Filipinos can help ensure there is Nobody Left Outside by sharing a gift that gives back.–

When a family has lost everything, providing them with shelter is the first step towards recovery.

You can be a part of the solution by helping us shelter two million people and ensuring there is Nobody Left Outside.

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