World Refugee Day: Recognizing refugees and displaced people around the globe
Published Jun 17 2024 08:00 AM 779 Views

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Ibrahim Fareedh lives in the Maldives where he has been a fisherman for 20 years. His work supports his wife, two daughters and his parents. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t worry about how climate change is impacting his work, and whether he’ll be forced to leave his home country to support his family. He loves fishing and his home and wants to continue with his way of life for years to come. But he’s facing numerous challenges with rising ocean temperatures and increased erosion affecting the island. His livelihood is tied to fishing. Significant environmental changes force him to travel farther into the sea for both bait and fishing and there is a serious near-term risk of him being displaced altogether. This is the plight for so many around the world.


On June 20th we honor World Refugee Day - an international day designated by the United Nations to recognize refugees and displaced people around the globe. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the strength and courage of those who have been forced to flee their home countries to escape conflict, persecution and environmental and climate-related disasters. It seems like each year, the hurdles in addressing the crisis confronting refugees and displaced people becomes more complex and urgent, and this day challenges us to think more deeply about how we can help produce positive and lasting change.


The world is currently facing the largest global refugee crisis in history


The most crucial aspect to understand about refugees in 2024 is the sheer scale of displacement. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, more than120 million refugees and displaced people worldwide have been forcibly moved due to conflict, violence, persecution, human rights abuses and climate change disruptions. The plight of this staggering number of human beings underscores the importance of global cooperation, compassion, and practical solutions to provide safety and support for those forced to flee their homes.


As part of our mission at Microsoft Tech for Social Impact to provide intergovernmental organizations (IGO) and nonprofits with the technology to accelerate social good globally, we collaborate with third sector organizations to provide solutions and support that help enhance personal safety, health, housing, and family reunification for refugees. Certainly, we recognize that technology isn’t a silver bullet, but it is part of a comprehensive strategy, and it can significantly improve the lives of displaced people.


Our partnerships are key in helping displaced people and identifying vulnerable populations


We have made and continue to prioritize partnerships with organizations like the International Organization for Migration (IOM) - UN Migration. These types of partnerships enable us to, among other things, leverage data analytics to predict migration patterns, allocate resources efficiently, and identify vulnerable populations.


The story of Ibrahim Fareedh in the Maldives is just one of many from our work with IOM, where so many people are worried about their livelihoods – and their lives! – due to very serious environmental conditions. That includes people who fish for a living; they’re living with a lot of uncertainty.


Ibrahim says if climate change weren’t an issue, catching bait and fishing would become easier. The island wouldn’t be subject to erosion, the reef would remain stable, and rising sea levels wouldn’t pose a threat. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. He hopes for positive change — in an ideal world, none of these things would worry him. And he and his family can lead a happy life without excessive fear and difficulties from climate change.


We want to help people like Ibrahim who aren’t yet on the move, but because of climate change may be on the move soon. We believe technology and AI can play a role to help offset the displacement of additional populations.


There are no easy answers, but there are many ways we can help advocate


World Refugee Day is much more than an acknowledgement; it’s an opportunity for each of us to play a part in fostering a world that’s inclusive and equitable, and a time to honor the indomitable spirit of refugees and displaced people by not only recognizing their plight but by actively contributing to a future where everyone has the chance to thrive. I hope this inspires you to consider supporting one of the UN organizations, such as IOM and UNHCR dedicated to supporting refugees and displaced people, or some of the other nonprofits we work with, such as Agape Source and One World Strong. Together we can make a difference.


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