2020 Theme: Every Action Counts
The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent anti-racism protests have shown us how desperately we need to fight for a more inclusive and equal world: a world where no one is left behind. It has never been clearer that all of us have a role to play in order to bring about change. Everyone can make a difference. This is at the heart of UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign. This year, we aim to remind the world that everyone, including refugees, can contribute to society and Every Action Counts in the effort to create a more just, inclusive, and equal world.
Understanding the terminology
A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”, according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.
Asylum seekers say they are refugees and have fled their homes as refugees do, but their claim to refugee status is not yet definitively evaluated in the country to which they fled.
Internally Displaced Persons
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are people who have not crossed an international border but have moved to a different region than the one they call home within their own country.
Stateless persons do not have a recognized nationality and do not belong to any country.
Statelessness situations are usually caused by discrimination against certain groups. Their lack of identification — a citizenship certificate — can exclude them from access to important government services, including health care, education or employment.
Returnees are former refugees who return to their own countries or regions of origin after time in exile. Returnees need continuous support and reintegration assistance to ensure that they can rebuild their lives at home.
Click here to learn more
Donate to organizations working with refugees Click here to learn more
Volunteer with our Welcoming Community for Newcomers Program
Volunteers are matched with a newcomer and participate in social activities together, such as conversation circles, informal ESL tutoring, cooking classes, doing homework together, attending sports events, going on community tours, meeting for coffee, and attending a community or cultural events. You and the newcomer will mutually decide on the nature of the activity, and when, where and how frequently to meet.
Targeted Matching Program: as a mentor, you will be matched with a newcomer family for a period of one year to help newcomers participate in the community. With your support newcomers will be able to improve their language skills, build social and professional networks, learn about life in Canada and Regina, and prepare for work in Canada.
To learn more and get involved contact Deborah at
Sponsor a Refugee
The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is hosting a webinar that addresses The Global Refugee Crisis and the Impact of COVID-19 on Refugees and Resettlement. They will discuss how Canadians can sponsor refugees through a program that identifies those in the most dire need of resettlement. This is called the BVOR program. They will also review the services that RSTP offers to sponsors.
The webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, 2020 and will run from 12:00 -1:30 PM (SK time). You can register for the webinar by clicking here.
Globally, 107,800 refugees were resettled in 2019. Just over half of all UNHCR resettlement submissions concerned children. Other groups included survivors of torture and/or violence, people with legal and physical protection needs, LGBTQI refugees and particularly vulnerable women and girls.
The annual increase, from a figure of 70.8 million at the end of 2018, is a result of new displacement particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahel, Yemen and Syria and a better presentation of the situation of Venezuelans outside their country, many of whom are not legally registered as refugees or asylum-seekers, but for whom protection-sensitive arrangements are required.
The full Global Trends report, which includes data on individual countries, demographics, numbers of people returning to their countries, and available estimates of stateless populations is available here.
Quick Facts and Figures:
- One percent of the world’s population is now forcibly displaced.
- 79.5 million forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2019, including 26 million refugees, of whom 20.4 million are under UNHCR’s mandate and 5.6 million Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate; 45.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs); 4.2 million asylum seekers and 3.6 million Venezuela refugees.
- 100 million people at least were forced to flee their homes in the past decade, seeking refugees either in or outside their countries. That’s more people fleeing than the entire population of Egypt, the world’s 14th most populous country.
- Forced displacement has almost doubled since 2010 (41 million then vs 79.5 million now).
- 80 percent of the world’s displaced people are in countries or territories affected by acute food insecurity and malnutrition – many of the countries facing climate and other disaster risks.
- More than three-quarters of the world’s refugees (77 percent) are caught up in situations of long-term displacement – for example, the situation in Afghanistan, now in its fifth decade.
- More than eight of every 10 refugees (85 percent) are in developing countries, generally a country neighbouring the one they fled.
- Five countries account for two-thirds of people displaced across borders: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.
- Displacement in cities and towns has become widespread. Among internally displaced populations two-thirds were in urban or semi-urban areas as of 2019, according to available data.
- The 2030 Sustainable Development commitment of “leaving no one behind” now explicitly includes refugees, thanks to a new indicator on refugees approved by the UN Statistical Commission in March this year.
Last year, our family started volunteering with the Regina Open Door Society. This is how we met the Rajebs: Mohamed, Amal, and their children: Hassan, Sarah, Dana, Hazim, and Rawan. We helped them gather clothing and furniture, and get to know Regina. We had them over for dinner many times, and they reciprocated with delicious meals. We are now very good friends.
The Rajebs are refugees from Syria who fled unbelievable circumstances. The lived most of their lives near Homs, Syria, before fleeing to Lebanon, where they lived for five years as refugees. Mohamed worked on an olive tree farm where he also looked after many animals. Amal is Mohamed’s second wife and the mother to youngest Rawan. The other children’s mother was shot and killed in Syria while nursing baby Hazim. They arrived in Canada as refugees in August 2018.
Much of Mohamed and Amal’s family in Syria and Lebanon have also been killed, either by bombs hitting buildings and collapsing on top of them, or direct gunshots. With all that they have been through, this family is so warm, loving and kind. The children are learning English very quickly at school, and get along wonderfully with friends and teachers. They love Canada and are so happy to be here. Until the coronavirus outbreak, both Mohamed and Amal were enrolled in daily English lessons, and their children were in elementary school (at Plainsview Elementary).
Volunteering with the Regina Open Door Society has brought increased awareness to our family as to what refugees go through, and how important it is to support refugees around the world. Our world is so diverse and beautiful, and helping newcomers in Canada is one way we can reach out and make a difference.
- Sarah, Rob, Ella, Otis and Grace Truszkowski