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World Refugee Day
refugee at sea

Is it so hard to imagine? 

June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a chance to raise awareness to the individual journies, lives, stories, of each and every refugee and shed a different light on a word and a term that today carry such negative connotations, even though, the movement of people in search of better lands has been integral to the very history of human development. 

It is in that same breath that we'd like to ask you, is it really so hard to imagine a world where refugees are truly welcomed? Can we truly not shift our collective image of refugees to 'powerful, resilient members of our world and societies' from only that of 'vulnerable, in need of our help and destructive to our societal fabric'? 

Misperceptions are framing refugees in the wrong way

FairPlanet has always covered stories around world migration and refugees from the angle that refugees, as individuals and together, are strong. Their strength saw them take brave journeys in search of better. Their strength has seen them integrate into new communities and societies, work and weave their way through foreign law. Their strength keeps them connected with their home country, sending money, bringing back new cultures, ideas and starting businesses. Refugees are powerful. Is it so hard to see? 

This World Refugee Day, FairPlanet is focusing on the individuality of refugees, and on truth and myths that shape how we see and think about refugees. We hope that this year, we can begin to leave the myth behind and stop dehumanising refugees because they are just people like you and us.

Read. Debate: Engage. 

Watch our Shorts

See refugees as they are – as strong, inspiring and beautiful humans

In collaboration with the filmmaker Noaz Deshe, we have produced and published several shorts looking intimately into the lives of refugees and migrants – whilst migrating, whilst trying to find their place and once they have settled in their new homes. 

when Survival is just the beginning of a journey into the unknown

SEA RESCUE VIDEO PREVIEW
SEA RESCUE by Noaz Deshe produced by FairPlanet in collaboration with Cadus e.V.

When music is your identity, come and listen

SARAH VIDEO PREVIEW
SARAH by Noaz Deshe produced by FairPlanet

Where is home when you have been on the road since you were 14?

KOUKSI VIDEO PREVIEW
KOUKSI by Noaz Deshe produced by FairPlanet
Myth vs Truth

Myths are familiar to each and every one of us. We've all heard this on the news, read it in the tabloids or even had a conversation with someone around the statement. For instance, a sheer 39 per cent of EU residents think immigrants take jobs away from local citizens. 

But the reality of this is vastly different. We're shedding some light on these popular myths. 

 

Myth: Most refugees restart their lives comfortably in new countries

Fact: Less than 1% of refugees are resettled into new countries.

Resettlement is still a rare phenomenon, even though millions are eligible. If successful, it often takes years, and the journey of starting life anew in a foreign country can be extremely hard, especially in the face of new legal and educational systems, foreign languages and cultural norms.

 

Myth: Most refugees flee to the US, Europe and Australia.

Fact: Over 80% of displaced persons are in countries neighbouring the conflict from which they fled.

Contrary to common belief and loaded headlines, only a small fraction of resettled refugees are hosted in developed countries. More often they are forced into limbo states, with no legal residency or work status.

 

 

Myth: The largest refugee camp is a Syrian camp in Jordan.

Fact: The Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Bangladesh is the world’s largest refugee camp.

While not receiving much global media coverage, Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh hosts over 860,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing ethnic and religious persecution – making it the largest refugee camp in the world, since 2017. Followed by Bidi Bidi camp in Uganda with a population of over 230,000 refugees, and Dadaab camp in Kenya with over 200,000 refugees.

 

Myth: Most refugees are from the Middle East.

Fact: The largest groups of refugees are from Venezuela, Syria & Afghanistan.

While refugee flows from the Middle East have captured most media attention in recent years, unfortunately, conflict and persecution know no bounds. In 2020, 5.5 million Syrian refugees made up ~25% of the global refugee population. Meanwhile, Venezuela continues to battle one of the largest non-war displacement crisis, with over 5 million people forced to flee economic, political, and humanitarian disaster over the last two years. In addition, many often-overlooked countries actually top the list, such as Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Eritrea.

 

Myth: Refugee influxes ruin economies.

Fact: Studies show that refugees can be positive fiscal contributors.

The notion that admitting refugees will ruin a host country’s economy is rooted in false economic ideas. Over time, refugees add more value to the economy than the initial cost of resettlement – if they are granted the right to work legally. Moreover, studies show that low-skilled foreign workers and low-skilled domestic workers tend to complement each other, rather than compete. In addition, immigrants tend to have higher entrepreneurial activity compared to natives, with studies finding that two-thirds of US GDP expansion since 2011 can be directly attributed to migration – an economic development trend also observed in Europe and the Middle East.

 

Myth: Refugees and immigrants are taking local jobs 

Fact: Refugees are adding a net positive to the economy, jobs and the social security system

The truth is, that refugees and migrants searching for safe havens and opportunities benefit their host nations’ economies within five years of arrival, suggests an analysis of 30 years of data from 15 countries in Western Europe. Published in 'Science Advances' on June 20, 2018, the study also finds that soon after a spike in migration, the overall strength and sustainability of the country’s economy improves and unemployment rates drop.

 

Myth: Refugees don’t make for good employees.

Fact: Refugees can be a long-term economic advantage for companies.

Employers say it best: when it comes to refugees, “They come to work and get the job done.” Recent research from the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) highlights that in addition to being hardworking, refugees often stay with their employers for longer and speak a foreign language – a highly desirable skill for any company with global operations. 

 

Source: NaTakallam, UN, Fiscal Policy Institue, eurostat

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