Why you should take a moment to let that number sink in’


The world reached a worrying milestone recently – for the first time ever, by war, conflict, oppression and climate disasters. The war in Ukraine tipped the scales, and the world has lovingly reached out to support the Ukrainian people, as we should. But we cannot forget the tens of millions of displaced people who are not at the doorstep of Western powers and who don’t make the headlines so often. People from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Myanmar, to name a few. There are worrying signs that aid funding is being diverted away from protracted crises that are already drastically underfunded.Afghanistan is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and crippling food shortages. Source: Getty, AFP / Ahmad Sahel ArmanAt the onset of any crisis, generally, a great deal of support and resources are made available, almost overnight, and this continues for the first few years. Support comes from local communities and the international community. But as the years pass, and new crises emerge, protracted crises are no longer in the limelight.My journey as a humanitarian and emergency aid worker has taken me to different crises and conflict zones across the globe, including Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. I am currently with the international aid organisation CARE in Bangladesh where I work closely with the almost one million Rohingya refugees who were forced to flee Myanmar. Many of them have been living in temporary shelters for almost five years now, with little hope of return.There are an estimated one million Rohingya refugees who have been forced to flee their homeland. Source: AAP, EPA / Bireuen Fisherman Group/ HO HandoutI met Farzana*, a Rohingya mother of six, in one of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. She is a volunteer who supports survivors of violence against women. Farzana is brave and committed and, despite many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, she has continued referring survivors of violence to counselling and other services.Speaking with her highlights the reality of the situation for Rohingya refugees today. She told me there was a glimmer of hope for a better future a couple of years ago, but that it is fast disappearing. She feels that the world has forgotten the Rohingya people already. Despite being uprooted from their own country and struggling to survive, women like Farzana continue to work and support their communities.READ MORENumbers like 100 million people displaced globally are hard to comprehend. It’s around four times the population of Australia. Behind this huge number are 100 million beating hearts – living, breathing people for whom every day is a day of uncertainty. Behind this huge number are 100 million beating hearts – living, breathing people for whom every day is a day of uncertainty.Many don’t know where their next meal will come from, if their shelter will keep them warm and dry or if they will ever be able to return to their homeland. Maybe we can take a moment here to let that sink in.More than 85 per cent of the world’s refugees are hosted by low-income countries – countries that often have difficulty even meeting their own citizens’ needs. Despite challenges, these countries step up to support those fleeing conflict and oppression. Australia and other wealthy countries must step up and do more.READ MOREThough resolving ongoing conflicts would be a more permanent solution to the global displacement crisis, the reality is, political solutions are not always possible. So, we as humanitarians and a global community must continue to support those impacted by these complex crises long after the headlines have faded.Forced displacement is no longer a temporary phenomenon. On average, refugees are displaced for 20 years. I’ll say that again – 20 years. Some do not know life outside refugee camps. This is a cruel statistic. Even crueller, the Ukraine crisis has also highlighted the differing treatment of refugees depending on their race.However long people are displaced, they deserve to feel safe and live with dignity. Everyone, regardless of who they are (sex, age, gender identity, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, religion, race, etc), where they are from, where they are fleeing to and how long they have been displaced should have equal rights, enjoy equal treatment and have access to services and support.Refugee Week is held from 19 to 25 June.Ram Das works for CARE Bangladesh as Deputy Country Director and has 20 years’ experience in the aid sector, including work in India, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Jordan.Would you like to share your story with SBS News? Email