World Refugee Day 2019: Letter from the President

Friends, let me be frank: The situation for displaced people around the world is more dire than at any point in my lifetime. Some 70 million women, men, and children have been forced to flee their homes because of war, persecution, and violence. And as bad as the situation may be in their home countries, when they arrive where they hoped to find refuge, they are increasingly greeted with hostility instead of a welcoming spirit. 

But there are reasons for hope. The stories we published in observance of World Refugee Day on June 20 are powerful examples of individuals who have overcome obstacles thrust upon them through no fault of their own. They arrived in their places of refuge or resettlement unsure and often alone, and have thrived as writers, musicians, social workers, advocates, and more. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, sons, friends—and neighbors.

The stories of these individuals inspire all of us at Refugees International, and they are why we work so hard to ensure that everyone has a chance to live their own story in safety and dignity. Our Refugees International Advocates travel to the field to meet with and listen carefully to displaced people, to learn about their struggles, and to help bring their stories to the halls of political power where life-saving decisions on aid and protection are made.   

Yes, there are staggering challenges of forced displacement. But the resilience of people like  Abdi, Mariela, Chekufara, Carlos, Mohamed, and Peace give us reason for hope and steel our determination to advocate for refugees. They are meeting challenges head on.   

I hope you will show your support and solidarity for displaced people by joining our #FaceTowardsHope campaign, featuring inspiring stories of strength and resilience. In doing so, you honor the perseverance of people forced from their homes but determined to build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Eric Schwartz, President
Refugees International