Today is World Refugee Day, a day for us all to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees across the globe. Refugees are people who’ve been forced to flee their homes due to persecution, war, violence, or famine. For many of us, we hear the word “refugee” and we immediately think of the most vulnerable individuals in the world – that young boy on the beach in Syria or the starving child in a massive refugee camp in Africa. There were nearly 21 million refugees worldwide in 2015 – and almost 11 million of those were children. The word “refugee” also means much more than that – it also represents strength, courage, and the human capacity to succeed.
The US took in nearly 85,000 refugees last year – from countries around the world: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Myanmar. Global conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Burundi, South Sudan, Libya and others contributed to a rise in refugees. Refugees don’t choose to be refugees and resettled in some other country. And they don’t get to choose where they go. Think about that.
Last year, 85,000 refugees resettled here in the US. On top of that, NOLB has welcomed thousands more men and their families who served as interpreters in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In just the first five months of 2017, No One Left Behind has already welcomed 2,463 new families, some 9,439 adults and children, to the US – each and every one looking for something better. Like refugees, they have come here to escape the threats of violence they face at home, due to their support of our military forces. And, like refugees they need our help. Way too many of these families need everything – from kitchen utensils to furniture to housing to transportation – and we do not have the resources to give them what they need.