World Refugee Day is celebrated on June 20 every year to acknowledge the courage, strength and perseverance of millions of refugees around the globe, who have been forced to flee from their native countries. 

A refugee is defined as someone "who fled his or her home and country owing to a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion," according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror, as per the intergovernmental organization. 

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To mark the occassion this year, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi Tuesday issued a statement, saying: “We honor the resilience and courage of more than 65 million people who have been forced to flee war, persecution and violence. But it’s also a moment to recognize those communities and people around the world who receive refugees and the internally displaced in their midst, offering them a safe place, and welcoming them in their schools, their workplaces and their societies.”

In the statement, Grandi also talked about what people can do to welcome more refugees to their own communities. “So on World Refugee Day, when we pause to contemplate the fate of the millions of people who cannot return to their homes tonight because of war or persecution — it’s also a moment to ask ourselves what each of us can do to overcome indifference or fear and embrace the idea of inclusion, to welcome refugees to our own communities, and to counter narratives that would seek to exclude and marginalize refugees and other uprooted people,” he asserted. 

GettyImages-89014639 A young Pakistani girl, internally displaced from Swat, looks out from a hole in a fence as her family waits to board a bus before departing from the Yar Hussain UNHCR camp in Chota Lahore in Swabi district, Pakistan, July 14, 2009. Photo: Getty Images

The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) conducts studies every year to find out the number of forcibly displaced people and also other related information about refugees. Here are some relevant facts about such people. 

  • The U.N. Refugee Agency's 2016 Global Trends study  found that 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2016, which is a record high. The number in 2016 is higher than the population of and about 300,000 more than the number of people displaced in 2015.  In 1997, the number of people displaced was 33.9 million.
  • In 2014, 34,300 asylum claims were made by unaccompanied children, the highest since refugee records began being made after the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention.
  • The top 5 host countries for refugees were Ethiopia, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey, according to the 2014 Global Trends study
  • U.K. was home to just 0.6 percent of the world’s refugees, according to the 2014 report.
  • The conflict in Syria was the world’s biggest source of refugees in 2016, forcing 5.5 million people to leave the Middle Eastern country. 

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Here are some inspirational quotes  by renowned individuals urging the public to support refugees. 

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” ― Warsan Shire, Author of “Teaching My Mother How to Give  Birth”

“In the midst of migrants in search of a better life there are people in need of protection: refugees and asylum-seekers, women and children victims of trafficking…Many move simply to avoid dying of hunger. When leaving is not an option but a necessity, this is more than poverty.” ― Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General  

“The challenge of ending displacement is inseparable from the challenge of establishing and maintaining peace. When wars end, farmers return to their fields; children return to school; violence against women declines; trade and economic activity resume; medical and other services become more accessible, and the international focus changes from relief to development and self-sufficiency. All this makes new wars less likely. It is a virtuous cycle that deserves nurture and support.” ― Late Kenneth H. Bacon, former Pentagon spokesman, journalist and rights advocate 

“I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present.” ― Kofi Annan, former U.N.Secretary-General

“What am I dying for? he cried back. I'm dying because this world I'm living in isn't worth dying for! If something is worth dying for, then you've got a reason to live.” ― Viet Thanh Nguyen, Vietnamese-American novelist