Feeling safe is something far too many people around the world do without and it is important to stand with those who advocate and defend refugees and the vulnerable in the riskiest places on the globe.

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The conflict in Syria entered its seventh year in 2017, and has resulted in the country leading the world in the number of refugee-producing nations. As World Refugee Day approaches, the situation in Syria is certainly front of mind.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has worked with Concern Worldwide during the past year to strengthen and support a community in northern Syria. Due to the conflict, the population has been dealing with collective trauma, normalized violence, and weakened local protection mechanisms. A series of focus group meetings helped targeted communities deal with protection concerns and increased capacity building. The project more specifically focused on addressing the needs of women and children in these communities, through vocational training and income-generating activities and child-friendly spaces.

Concern also recently finished a report called Shattered Lives on protection needs and work inside Syria. In the report, some of the most common challenges related to protection voiced by people of the community included: forced conscription, harassment and abuse, forced displacement, travel restrictions, spread of diseases, and the lack of medicines and medical staff. These are all key ongoing issues inside Syria.

As we approach World Refugee Day, I hope you take a moment – not just today, but throughout the year – to put yourself in the shoes of a refugee.

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Refugees – displaced due to conflict, natural disaster, famine and economic changes – are among the world’s most vulnerable. Often with out the basic protections afforded by a home state, they flee homes and face peril on the road with limited resources to places where they frequently have no family support, no jobs, and may or may not speak the language.

We should always act from that place – their shoes. Whether it’s personally, as we work in our own communities, where refugees live, work, and send their children to school; or as funders, working with organizations like Concern. Feeling safe is something far too many people around the world do without and it is important to stand with those who advocate and defend refugees and the vulnerable in the riskiest places on the globe.

Illustrations for Concern by Marc Corrigan www.marccorrigan.com.