UNHCR launched “Voices for Refugees”, an online campaign, to mobilise support for internally displaced people and refugees in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by local communities.
UNHCR statistics show that by the end of 2014, worldwide displacement reached 59.5 million, the highest level ever recorded. One third of the world’s conflicts that generate displacement have erupted or reignited in the MENA region. The Middle East is the world's largest producer and host of forcibly displaced people. More than 3 million or 21 per cent of the world’s refugees are in the region, mainly from Syria.
“While the Syrian conflict continues for a fifth year, and many conflicts in the region and beyond exacerbate the humanitarian crisis for displaced persons and refugees, voices from the region should take centre stage to empower action that showcases support, generates awareness and drives impact,” said Nabil Othman, UNHCR’s Acting Regional Representative to the GCC countries.
More than 12 million Syrians have been impacted directly with the conflict in their country. Recent estimates stand at 7.6 million Syrian civilians that have been displaced internally, with 3.98 million (as of June 2015) who are registered refugees in neighbouring and overseas countries.
Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees at 1.77 million as of June 2015. Syrian refugees in the Middle East are also spread across Egypt (134,329), and in Iraq (249,656). Lebanon is the third-largest refugee-hosting country. As of June 2015, Lebanon hosts 1.17 million refugees, stretching the country’s socio-economic absorption capacity to its limit. Jordan ranked as the world’s sixth-largest refugee-hosting country.
“Voices for Refugees is reaching out to host and neighbouring communities that are impacted socially and economically on a macro level. Voices for Refugees goes beyond compassion and solidarity.
“While we continue to focus with our partners in the region on on-the-ground programmes, we believe that refugees need Voices of support. These voices will drive awareness, action and inspiration but most importantly it is a message of unified destiny and aspiration,” Othman added.
Using a simple online registration mechanism, supporters can sign up to become voices through the online portal: www.voices.unhcr.org. The campaign’s dedicated Facebook page communicates proactively in English and Arabic, and generates higher levels of engagement among Arabic speaking communities. Voices for Refugees will also highlight UNHCR’s efforts to track refugees’ stories of hope and inspiration through its online platform.
In May this year, only 23 per cent of the total US$4.5 billion appeal for Syrian refugees in 2015 was covered, a far cry from the tumultuous needs. Voices for Refugees hopes to drive impact for refugees among the donor community, including individuals in the region and beyond.
Most of the countries in the MENA region and beyond are impacted by the forced displacement of civilians due to violent conflicts. The most impacted nations are Syria, Iraq, Sudan (over half a million refugees in neighbouring countries), South Sudan (1.5 million displaced, 0.7 million refugees in neighbouring countries), Libya, Somalia (1.1 million refugees), Nigeria (over 1.4 million people internally displaced), Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. Similar statistics are also witnessed in Southeast Asia with the Rohingya crisis.