Tomorrow starts today….what the future holds for 21st century refugees.

The numbers are overpowering. The stories are devastating. The human cost is overwhelming. So much so, that much of the world seems to stand aside whilst the countries immediately affected attempt to step in and fix things.

What does the future hold? Given that our global society is experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, it will take an ongoing global response to attempt to move forward.

In December 2014, the United Nations issued their largest ever appeal for a single crisis – $8.4 billion is necessary to meet the needs of those affected by the crisis, both inside and outside of Syria. $8,400,000,000. That is almost too much to comprehend. Often, only 50% or less is actually funded.

A Report from UNHCR showed that worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded in history.

59.5 million people were forcibly displaced by the end of 2014.

59,500,000 people

That was an increase from 51.2 million people from 2013.

And an increase from 39.5 million people from a decade ago.

Most alarmingly is that half of the world’s refugees are children. 

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 2.17.45 pm

Image 1. (2015)

“Globally, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. If this were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th biggest. (UNHCR, 2015).

“The international community has to overcome its differences and find solutions to the conflicts of today in South Sudan, Syria, Central African Republic and elsewhere. Non-traditional donors need to step up alongside traditional donors. As many people are forcibly displaced today as the entire populations of medium-to-large countries such as Colombia or Spain, South Africa or South Korea,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres (2014).

The driving force for the acceleration in the rapid climb in the number of people displaced worldwide is due to ongoing civil war raging in Syria – now the world’s single-largest driver of displacement.

Every day last year on average 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced, a four-fold increase in just four years”. (UNHCR, 2015)

The impact on the world is being felt now. It has been felt for the past few years as the numbers skyrocket. However, the global response has been out of proportion with the level of human need. “For an age of unprecedented mass displacement, we need an unprecedented humanitarian response and a renewed global commitment to tolerance and protection for people fleeing conflict and persecution.” (Guterres, 2015).

What does the future hold for a 21st century refugee? Without a committed, global contribution to respond to the crisis, I fear that many nations of the world who are physically removed from the greatest areas of conflict will turn a blind eye until they begin to experience a personal cost themselves.

And those nations will experience this cost in years to come if they are not directly affected today. Without dramatic change, we will see a generation of children, adolescents and young adults unable to contribute to their families and/or communities due to unaddressed psychological and physical traumas faced during their childhood, the ongoing lack of education to adequately prepare them for life as an adult in a global society and the ongoing financial cost to rebuild the war torn countries after the conflict eventually ends.

However, with a united global approach perhaps tomorrow really can start today and the future pathways of millions upon millions of displaced citizens around the world can be redirected? Priorities beyond immediate personal safety from war include education.  Parents, students and community members want a society that is educated, skilled and able to wish for a better future. Education of the next generation of learners, refugees and otherwise, can ideally help to raise global citizens from all corners of the world in an effort to avoid repeating the disastrous fallout we are experiencing today.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 2.10.39 pm

Image 2 (2013)


Image 1. (2015). Retrieved on October 14, 2015 from

Image 2. (2013). Retrieved on October 14, 2015 from


3 thoughts on “Tomorrow starts today….what the future holds for 21st century refugees.

  1. PattyMacDotComma

    It’s only just occurred to me, reading this post, that not only does education prepare kids for the future, but it engages a lot of people in positive activity. All the adults involved – parents, teachers, volunteers, doctors and such – are busy contributing and sharing their knowledge and skills with children and young people.

    It’s a way to break the monotony and interrupt some scary thought processes for everyone. It’s also a way for both the kids and adults to structure some of their daytime activities.

    I have read of kids insisting on going to school in cities that are being bombed, because they just want to be at school with other kids and learn and DO something, not just sit at home, waiting for bombs.

    It’s about a lot more than just preparing for the future – sometimes it just helps people live today.

    Very thought-provoking article.


    1. You’re exactly right. Often one of the biggest issues facing families today is the overwhelming fear of allowing any “freedoms” to their children. Even things such as leaving the home. Many children, girls especially, aren’t allowed to leave their home for fear of attack and/or rape. However, in one report that interviewed 120 Syrian students, parents and community members still living in Syria showed that education and attending school is a huge priority for many.

      “Nevertheless, 76 percent are
      facing serious difficulties in continuing their education. As a male adolescent confirms, “We go to school every day. Sometimes there is no teacher, but we still go. It is better than sitting (doing nothing).”

      Click to access Mercy%20Corps%20Syria%20Adolescents%20Assessment%20No%20One%20Hears%20Us.pdf


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