When Everything is Gone: The Crisis of Displacement

By Girl Rising

January 4th 2019

 
 
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The crisis of refugees and displaced peoples on our planet is enormous, and only getting bigger. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 68.5 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, natural disasters, or human rights violations since the end of 2017. More than half of them are under the age of 18. The world has never seen anything like this—not even during the world wars of the 20th century.

In a few months, Girl Rising will premiere a short film about Nasro, a 17-year-old Somali girl living in Dadaab, one of the world’s largest refugee camps. She might be the bravest person you ever get to know.

Nasro faces daily threats to her well-being. Food is scarce, water is scarcer, and danger is abundant. School is inconsistent—sometimes available, sometimes not—and for many, the perils of even getting to school are enough to stop going. Rape and assault are so commonplace that many girls cease their education. Some are married as young as 13 and average life expectancy for women is a mere 52 years.

Nasro is surviving by sheer will and determination. School is her lifeline and, she believes, the only hope for a better future. The odds are nearly impossible, but she is fierce, and she is brave. This is why we are telling her story. We believe that one girl with courage can change the world.

 
 
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 The numbers are staggering.

Refugees are displaced people who have fled their home to another country because they face persecution. Internally displaced people (IDPs) are people who have fled their homes but are still within their home country.

  • 68.5 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide. 

  • 40 million people are internally displaced (within their own countries). That’s the population of California. 

  • 3.1 million people are seeking asylum worldwide. That’s more than the population of Paris.

  • Every two seconds, another person is displaced. That means 30 people every minute or 1,800 people every hour.

Footnote: https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html

 
 

Shaking off the Anesthesia

Nobody chooses to be displaced, to be a refugee, or to leave their home—often with only what they can carry. Imagine how dangerous your street would need to be for you to pack your rolling suitcase and a duffle, stuff cash in every pocket, and set off on foot out of town?

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The statistics are staggering, but also strangely anesthetizing. When numbers get this big, it’s hard to attach faces, names, families, and feelings. With the relentless onslaught of news reports about global crises and the innocents displaced, it’s understandable to become numb to it all.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  To work towards solving the problems of displacement, we must take the first step of caring.  Some believe that society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. We believe that too, and that’s why we are shining a light on Nasro’s story.  We will tell you the story of one girl. We will reveal the human reality inside the statistics.  

 
 

If school is a basic human right, how can these statistics be tolerated?

 
 
  • Over half of the world’s refugees are under the age of 18 and nearly all of them struggle to receive an education.

  • In 2017, 1.5 million refugee children were not attending primary school (K–6) and 2 million were not attending secondary school (grades 7–12).

  • The statistics are even worse for adolescents: 23 percent of refugee adolescents and 9 percent of refugee adolescents in low-income countries attend secondary school. Globally, 84 percent of adolescents attend secondary school.

 
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Why is Girl’s Education Especially Important?

When a girl has access to an education, she is less vulnerable and more empowered. The ripples extend far beyond her own life, too.

  • Education reduces girls’ vulnerability to exploitation, sexual and gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy and child marriage.

  • If all refugee girls receive an education, their families and communities are more likely to improve their social and economic position.

  • In secondary school, for every 10 refugee boys, there are fewer than 7 refugee girls. Yet, if all girls finished secondary school, child marriage would plummet by 64 percent.

    https://www.unhcr.org/herturn/

 
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“Access to education is a fundamental human right. It is essential to the acquisition of knowledge and to “the full development of the human personality”, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states. More than that, education makes us more resilient and independent individuals. Yet for millions of women and girls among the world’s ever-growing refugee population, education remains an aspiration, not a reality.” — UNHCR

 
 

 
 

Who is Girl Rising?

Girl Rising is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world in which every girl can grow to be a full and equal participant in society. We use the power of storytelling to change attitudes and beliefs that are holding girls back. We work hand-in-hand with partners to empower girls and engage those around them—boys, parents, teachers and community leaders—to create locally-led change.

 
 
 

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