Overview

The global refugee crisis has continued to grow and more than 65 million people are forcibly displaced around around the world. More than half of those refugees come from three countries: Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), and Somalia (1.1 million).

The United Nations Refugee Agency notes that a record 34,000 people a day, or roughly 24 people a minute, are displaced from their homes by conflict and violence daily. Children make up 51 percent of the world’s refugees. The organization lists three main reasons:

  • Conflicts that cause large refugee outflows, like Somalia and Afghanistan – now in their third and fourth decade respectively – are lasting longer;
  • Dramatic new or reignited conflicts and situations of insecurity are occurring more frequently. While today’s largest is Syria, wars have broken out in the past five years in South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, Ukraine and Central African Republic, while thousands more people have fled raging gang and other violence in Central America;
  • The rate at which solutions are being found for refugees and internally displaced people has been on a falling trend since the end of the Cold War, leaving a growing number in limbo.

Following recent actions in the U.S. that have worsened the global refugee situation, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy has reopened its’ Global Refugee Crisis Fund.

Sources for this disaster profile include CNN, CBS News, Vox News, BBC News, UNHCR, OIM, and responding INGOs.

Background

Syrian refugees gather in Kanjiza camp in Northern Serbia, waiting to continue their journey. Thousands have fled to Serbia to escape the violence in Syria. (Photo by Aida Sunje, World Vision).

The United Nations Refugee Agency notes that a record 34,000 people a day, or roughly 24 people a minute, are displaced from their homes by conflict and violence daily. The organization lists three main reasons:

  • Conflicts that cause large refugee outflows, like Somalia and Afghanistan – now in their third and fourth decade respectively – are lasting longer;
  • Dramatic new or reignited conflicts and situations of insecurity are occurring more frequently. While today’s largest is Syria, wars have broken out in the past five years in South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, Ukraine and Central African Republic, while thousands more people have fled raging gang and other violence in Central America;
  • The rate at which solutions are being found for refugees and internally displaced people has been on a falling trend since the end of the Cold War, leaving a growing number in limbo.

Beginning in 2014, there was a spike in the number of refugees arriving in Europe who were fleeing countries in conflict. In 2015 and 2016 combined, there was an estimated 1.2 million arrivals to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. Thousands more made the journey on foot through the Western Balkans. A UN report on 2016 refugees and migrants into Europe noted there were 363,000 people who arrived in Europe seeking asylum in that year. 5,000 people died at sea in 2016 while seeking safe refuge.

A refugee is defined by the United Nations as a person, who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and because of those circumstances is unable or unwilling to return to it.

A European Union rule called the Dublin Regulation requires refugees to stay in the first European country they arrive in until their asylum claims are processed. This rule trapped refugees in Italy and Greece upon their arrival by boat. Many nations – Germany, Austria, Sweden, the United Kingdom and others – have waived the rule and allowed refugees to apply for asylum, but this requires refugees to have the means to travel from the country they arrive in to another country. Often, they make the long journey on foot.

Upon arrival, refugees must stay in detention camps or reception centers until they either begin to travel to another country or find a way to stay in the nation in which they arrive. Refugees are entitled to asylum in Europe under the Common European Asylum System, which outlines a framework for reception, registration, protection and rehabilitation. However, many nations lack the infrastructure to implement this system given the current influx of refugees. The camps and centers in which many arriving refugees are forced to stay are overcrowded and often lack food, water and other basic necessities.

At the end of March 2016, a deal between Turkey and the European Union forces refugees arriving on their own or through smugglers networks to be returned to Turkey. According to the terms of the deal, those arriving “irregularly” (those who do not qualify for asylum or those arriving from a country where they could have or already have applied for asylum) are sent to Turkey. In exchange, Turkey will receive €6 billion in aid from the UN during the next two years, fewer visa restrictions, and the EU will formally resettle one Syrian refugee for every refugee returned to Turkey (although the number is capped at 78,000 annually). This deal has not been rigorously enforced, particularly following the coup in Turkey.

Some NGOs have deemed the deal inhumane and have withdrawn services some areas in an effort to not participate, even complicity, in actions they view as immoral.

While the deal has stemmed the flow of people to Europe, it has certainly not stopped it. Many people continue to arrive, as officials have struggled to get logistics in place to implement the deal, stranding thousands in hotspots and detainment centers. The recent coup d’etat attempt in Turkey has also put a damper on the deal being put firmly in place. The true driver of the lessening waves of people has been the stranding of many in camps and centers on European shores, and the closing of most borders along the Balkans routes.

CDP Insights

5 Things Funders Can Do to Address the Global Refugee Crisis

Funding Worth Following in the Refugee Crisis

A Donor’s Guide to Funding the Three Stages of the Refugee Crisis

Anna Hurt writes about Being Courageous in the Refugee Crisis.

CDP’s webinar: The Global Refugee Crisis: At Our Doors and Beyond

Donors

  • Airbnb is providing travel credit and support to iNGOs working in this crisis.
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation: $200,000 to assist in U.S.-based resettlement efforts for Syrian refugees, focused in the Baltimore, Maryland ($100,000 to the Baltimore International Rescue Committee office), and Atlanta, Georgia ($50,000 to the George IRC office and $50,000 to New American Pathways).
  • Audi: $1.1 million to local aid programs in Germany to support refugee assistance
  • The Gates Foundation: $1 million to The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help support its response efforts related to the immediate needs of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe.
  • Goldman Sachs: $3 million to UNHCR to support refugee aid in Europe
  • Google: $1.1 million to organizations assisting in refugee crisis
  • JPMorgan Chase Foundation: $1 million to Save the Children, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, and International Medical Corps
  • The Kovler Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region: $100,000 to UNHCR’s Global Initiative on Protection at Sea
  • Stavros Niarchos Foundation: €750,000 to Doctors Without Borders and International Rescue Committee. The organization is also working with the European Program for Integration and Migration to support nongovernmental organizations providing services to unaccompanied refugee children.
  • The Western Union Company and Western Union Foundation: $1 million to communities affected by refugee influx in Europe

If you have an organization that is funding this crisis, please send details and information to anna.hurt@disasterphilanthropy.org.

NGO Response

Concern Worldwide is working inside Syria and with refugees and vulnerable host families in Lebanon and Turkey to deliver life-changing assistance. With a total portfolio of approximately $29 million from 14 donors, Concern is supporting almost 900,000 people affected by the Syria crisis through 18 projects in education, livelihoods, protection, food security, and water and sanitation.

Direct Relief partners with United Muslim Relief and Syria Relief and Development to provide critical medical supplies for hospitals and primary healthcare centers in Syria, including those in and near Aleppo. Direct Relief is also working to support the Syrian American Medical Society, an organization that oversees 55 health projects in Syria and helps Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. In addition, Direct Relief is supporting medical projects in Greece, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia and Serbia, and Turkey.

International Rescue Committee is working to support refugees around the world and in the United States. In one year, IRC has provided 3.3 million Syria refugees with vital assistance in more than five countries in the Middle East; supported local, grassroots non-profits around the world with resources to help fleeing refugees; and provided resettlement support to thousands of refugees in the United States.

Islamic Relief USA is working to provide medical, education, food, livelihood, water and sanitation, winterization, and emergency response support to refugees throughout the Middle East and Europe.

Medical Teams International has teams and programs in Lebanon, Greece, and Turkey, working to provide needed medical supplies and medical care to refugees.

Mercy Corps has a 20-year history in the Syria region, and currently has staff in eight countries working to help more than 2.5 million affected people. Mercy Corps has one of the largest humanitarian operations inside Syria, reaching about 470,000 people per month with water and sanitation, shelter, and household support. Other programs include psychosocial and trauma support, education and livelihood resources, and community programming.

Project HOPE is working with the Ministry of Health in Macedonia to respond to the needs of refugees by seeking donations of medicines and supplies to meet these needs, as well as cash donations to support the shipment and delivery of these products. Project HOPE is working to support refugees through partners in the Balkans.

The Salvation Army is providing food, shelter, medical aid, legal assistance, and emotional and spiritual care to refugees and migrants in 13 European countries. With a significant presence throughout Europe, The Salvation Army is uniquely positioned to provide support to refugees and local residents. Active relief efforts are taking place in Greece, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany and Finland. The Salvation Army also is working to provide support to refugees and migrants in Romania, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Save the Children is responding in Greece (shelter, hygiene and baby kits), Italy (care and guidance for minors at processing centers), Serbia (food, water, shelter, household items, child-friendly spaces, coordination hub for child trafficking and exploitation issues), Lebanon (child protection, education, food, and shelter), and Egypt (child protection and child-friendly spaces).

UNHCR is responding throughout Europe and in and around the Mediterranean Sea to assist refugees.

World Vision is working in Syria (food aid, health assistance, hygiene support, baby care kits, water and sanitation, shelter repair kits, and winterization supplies), Iraq (food aid, health services, water and sanitation, baby kits, stoves and other winter supplies; for children: education and recreation, programming for life skills, peace building, and resilience), Jordan and Lebanon (personal and household supplies, clean water and sanitation, education and recreation, child-friendly spaces and child protection training for adults, winter kits, and psychosocial support for children).

If your organization is responding, please send updates to anna.hurt@disasterphilanthropy.org to be posted here.

Take Action

There are a variety of needs that funders can choose to address in this situation:

  • Give to the CDP Global Refugee Fund.
  • Fund organizations working to provide immediate, short-term relief needs. Donors can fund iNGOs working to provide food, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), shelter, basic household items and cash assistance to arriving refugees.
  • Fund resettlement needs. A donor can address the social needs as refugees reach countries and receive asylum status. These needs will include cash assistance, education (particularly considering some children have been out of school for two years or more), learning a new language, mental health and psychosocial support services to address trauma issues. Funding this component of recovery allows refugees to achieve independent status in their host country and integrates them into their new community.
  • Support long-term needs in this crisis. It is unlikely that the swell of refugees will disappear. Donors should look for ways to fund organizations working to improve reception centers and detainment camps and boost the internal capacity of host nations to handle the refugee flow.
  • CDP 2015 Refugee Crisis Fund. Donors collaborated through CDP’s fund to meet the needs of adolescents displaced inside Syria.

Learn More

Visit Google’s 360 Experience: Searching for Syria

Read the Cato Institute analysis on the lack of links between terrorism and immigration.

The Women’s Refugee Commission has written a report, Protection Risks for Women and Girls in the European Refugee and Migrant Crisis, that summarizes the protection risks and current response of governments and humanitarian actors. WRC has also written a report with recommendations on women and girls fleeing through Serbia and Slovenia and how refugee women and girls in Germany and Sweden are falling through the cracks.

Facts & Stats

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Source: UNHCR

 

  • More than 5,000 have died or gone missing while traveling to Europe by boat in 2016.
  • About 65.3 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes.
  • Fifty-four percent of the world’s refugees come from Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), and Somalia (1.1 million).
  • More than half of all refugees are children.