Experts from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) discuss the meaning of the term "rule...
World Refugee Day
Today, June 20, marks World Refugee Day. Refugees are people who are forced to leave their home country often because of armed conflict. Other reasons refugees leave their home country include generalized violence, human rights violations, or natural or human-made disasters. People who have been displaced from their homes but who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border are called “internally displaced persons.”
The United Nations (UN) has marked every June 20 since 2001 as a day to raise awareness about refugees; it is also the day on which the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was signed into international law. This document defined who is a refugee, the rights of refugees, and countries’ legal obligations. It guides the work of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Refugees displaced from their homes by the Darfur conflict in Sudan live in camps like this one.
Every minute eight people are forced to leave their homes because of war, persecution or terror, according to UNHCR. Even after an armed conflict has ended, refugees may remain reluctant to return home. Those who do often face significant challenges in rebuilding their lives and their communities.
At any given time, there are dozens of violent conflicts raging in the world, many of which have led to refugee flows to neighboring countries and regions. But there are also important efforts underway around the world to provide assistance to those affected by violent conflict and to build peace. Learn more about particular conflicts in our Mapping Conflict section.
Learn about conflict zones around the world with our interactive map in the Mapping Conflict section.
Educators interested in teaching about the important issue of refugees can find additional resources in the Red Cross’s Exploring Humanitarian Law, a comprehensive curriculum for teachers looking to incorporate humanitarian law in their classrooms. Developed by the American Red Cross and initially funded by USIP in 1988, the curriculum includes a focus on refugees and internally displaced people.