World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations and observed June 20th each year, is dedicated to raising awareness to the plight of the millions of refugees around the world who have fled their homes due to conflict and persecution. Across our programs, HealthRight International is firmly committed to improving the health and wellbeing of those displaced by conflict, violence and persecution—including refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The world is currently facing what has been called the worst migrant crisis since World War II. Unlike past episodes, there is no single cause of the increase in displaced people around the globe today. We can point to civil wars in Syria, Libya, and Yemen; ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq; increasing violence in Central America; and the persecution of individuals around the globe due to their gender identity, their sexual orientation, their religion, their ethnicity. And for every 10 refugees who flee violence and upheaval in their home countries, there are nearly 20 who are displaced within their nation’s own boundaries—millions of people whose stories are not always spotlighted.
Through our Human Rights Clinic, for over 20 years HealthRight has assisted asylum seekers from every corner of the globe gain legal status and rebuild their lives in the U.S., by deploying the health sector to provide forensic evaluations to document asylum seekers’ experiences of torture and abuse, and by providing case management services to connect these migrants with needed services in their communities. Each year, the HRC is there to respond to those in greatest need—whether LGBT asylum seekers from one of the dozens of countries where homosexuality is illegal, unaccompanied migrant children (UMCs) from Central America, or individuals from the countless nations engulfed in war and conflict. More recently, as conflict continues in Ukraine leaving more than 1.6 million people internally displaced to date, HealthRight has been there to serve those most vulnerable, building the capacity of the local health sector to serve IDPs who’ve experience gender-based violence (GBV) and torture, as well as displaced families with children.
As we celebrate World Refugee Day, HealthRight pledges to continue to help refugees, asylum seekers and IDPs across the global access the care they need, and to live free from the oppression and violence they flee. Together, we can work to make the world a safer place for the most vulnerable among us.
Lindsey Oldshue, Linda Luu, and Jack Buyske, HealthRight Interns