Today we mark the annual World Refugee Day.
There are currently more than 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world. That is roughly the population of the United Kingdom.
22.5 million of these are refugees. That means that they have crossed an international boarder in search of protection. Half of the worlds refugees are under the age of 18.
According to the United Nations, 24 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror every minute.
These numbers can leave most people with a sense of powerlessness.
Everyone has an opinion about refugees. Some fear that Islamic forces will take over Europe, others praise religious and cultural diversity.
In 2015, more than 1 million refugees made the dangerous journey to Europe. 3771 died in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean. Last year, only 364.000 attempted the journey, but more than 5000 lost their lives. Europe has tightened the grip of its boarders, and the crossing has become even more dangerous.
So far this year, 77.000 people have crossed the Mediterranean. UNHCR estimates that 1854 have died in the attempt. In Greece, where A Drop in the Ocean is present in several of the refugee camps, more than 8000 people have arrived since January.
On Chios, the situation is at breaking point. 4000 refugees are currently living on the island. The official camps are full, and new arrivals are forced to sleep in provisional tents on the beach or on the street.
A large number of the refugees on Chios are unaccompanied minors. They fear for their safety in the camps, facing harassment from locals and police, sexual exploitation and tensions among the different ethnical groups. Read more about the terrible conditions on Chios here.
The situation on Chios is totally unacceptable. On World Refugee Day, please consider helping us support refugees by giving a donation here.
In Souda refugee camp on Chios, A Drop in the Ocean hands out food several times a day. The organisation also arranges activities for men, woman and children, and a Drop Boutique is soon ready to open. Through the boutique we aim to distribute necessities in a dignified way.