Today is World Refugee Day, and aid agency GOAL have released six facts that you probably do not know about refugees.
It comes as the UN refugee agency released a report saying that the number of refugees and internally displaced people worldwide stood at 65.3 million at the end of last year.
The record number is because persecution and conflict in places like Syria and Afghanistan have lead to an increase in their numbers.
1. More than half of the world’s refugees are children.
Refugee children are a particularly vulnerable group. Mary T Murphy, probably Cork’s most famous aid worker, has witnessed the reality of life for refugees during her time with international aid charity GOAL.
She said: “Life for people living in camps is difficult but they are happy to be safe and away from conflict. Mothers struggle to keep their children healthy and to ensure that they have enough food, water and shelter.”
2. Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were refugees, along with music artists M.I.A., Wyclef Jean and the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama, who was forced to flee Tibet at a young age, remains a refugee.
He said: "At 24 I lost my country and became a refugee. I've met difficulties, but as the saying goes: 'Wherever you're happy, you can call home, and whoever is kind to you is like your parents.' I've been happy and at home in the world at large. Living a meaningful life isn't just a matter of money; it's about dedicating your life to helping others."
3. Most refugees live in cities, not camps.
About 25% of the world’s refugee population live in camps but many more live in cities, where most pay rent.
Many refugees end up living in slums and informal settlements on the fringes of cities, where conditions are often difficult and hazardous.
4. More people are displaced today than any time since World War Two.
For the first time since the Second World War, the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has exceeded 50 million people.
Every day, more than 40,000 people worldwide are forced to flee their homes; that’s equivalent to the population of Longford. While more than 1 million migrants crossed into Europe in 2015, an overwhelming 86% of refugees are hosted by developing countries.
5. The contraceptive pill, fish and chips, the mini, and Sriracha, the hot sauce with a cult following, were all invented by refugees.
We owe a lot of modern day inventions to refugees, including the contraceptive pill, the key ingredient for which was developed by Carl Djerassi, an Austrian refugee.
Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Portugal in the 17th century brought the first adaption of fish and chips to Britain. Sriacha, the hot sauce that has gained a cult following among foodies, was invented by a Vietnamese refugee named David Tran.
The greek refugee who created the iconic Mini, Sir Alec Issigonis, fled from Turkey in 1922.
6. Syria was the world’s second-largest refugee hosting country before war broke out in 2011.
Today Syria is the largest refugee producing country in the world, with a staggering 4.2 million refugees.
The crisis has been raging for over five years, resulting in the internal displacement of 7.6 million people.
An average of one bomb a day fell on the province of Idlib in northern Syria in October, an area about the size of Galway.