RFE/RL Marks World Refugee Day

The decision to leave home, community and possessions behind in order to flee a conflict area is one made by desperate people around the globe every day. On June 20 the UNHCR observed World Refugee Day to draw attention to the more than 46 million refugees and internally displaced people worldwide. The figures are overwhelming, pushed to an 18-year high this year by fighting in Syria, Mali and elsewhere.

RFE/RL is in many countries that are points of origin or arrival for large numbers of refugees. To mark the day, RFE/RL told their stories in evocative images and moving interviews and features.

According to a UNHCR report, one out of every four refugees worldwide is originally from Afghanistan – an issue that RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan regularly addresses, especially the fate of refugees returning to the country or those displaced internally. In the bitter December cold, Radio Free Afghanistan visited a camp in Kabul where families were anxiously waiting to pick up aid packages including warm children’s clothing, blankets, and cooking supplies. Another refugee, Muhibullah Abdullah, fled to Kazakhstan with his family after the Taliban threatened Abdullah’s life. In this video, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service speaks with Abdullah and his sons about their lives in Almaty.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes during the Chechen wars of the 1990s, and have since faced a myriad of difficulties, from housing insecurity and insufficient healthcare to racism and problems assimilating the culture of their new countries, as this photo gallery from RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service shows. RFE/RL also explores reports of Chechens leaving their homes not as refugees, but as participants joining the ranks of opposition fighters in Syria.

The Dalo family came to Moldova in March this year after the fighting in Syria forced them from their home. Though they’ve escaped the war, RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service reports they have been unable to find adequate housing and work.

RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service traveled to Transcarpathia to visit a temporary housing settlement for refugees from around the world and speak to them about the past they left behind and their hopes for a future in Europe in this video report.

In two photo galleries compiled by the Central Newsroom from images taken by the UNHCR, refugees from Syria and other conflict areas display the most valuable item they managed to escape with.

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