Global refugee crisis – key issues and suggested responses
The heart-wrenching photograph of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach focused
international media attention on refugee movements out of Syria, and Canada’s
responsibility within the context of a global refugee crisis. This page provides basic
information on the current situation, suggested responses and sources of further
In the context of on-going conflict in Syria, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates
that more than 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced within the country, while over 5 million have crossed borders in search of refuge. Ninety-five percent of these refugees are hosted in five neighbouring countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt (AI). While 10% of Syrian refugees are in urgent need of resettlement to countries in the global north, just over 2% have secured resettlement (AI). As of August 2016, Canada has resettled 29,970 Syrian refugees, with more than half sponsored by the government. T
The situation of Syrian refugees is part of a larger global refugee crisis. Currently, over 65
million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes – the largest
number of people in situations of forced migration since World War II. Some have been
living in protracted displacement for decades; generations of young people have grown up in displacement situations.
|Suggested responses and resources
The scale and pervasiveness of refugee issues may seem overwhelming. However, there are
many ways in which individuals and groups can help:• Learn more about forced migration issues by reading and listening to the news, or attending a webinar, seminar or course.
o York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies offers the following educational programs and public seminar series:
o The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) offers regular webinars:
• Write to your municipal, provincial and federal government candidates and/or
• Share refugee-related stories and resources on social media.
• Form a Group of 5 to sponsor a refugee and/or support refugee sponsorship groups with your time, talent and/or donations. For more information on refugee sponsorship, see:
• Join your local World University Students of Canada (WUSC) group
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). 2015. “How Canada is Helping Syrian and
Iraqi Refugees”. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/crisis/canada-response.asp
Amnesty International (AI). 2015. “Syria’s Refugee Crisis in Numbers”.
UNHCR. 2015. “Syrian Regional Response”
UNHCR. 2015. “UNHCR Country Operations Profile – Syrian Arab Republic”.
Prepared by Christina Clark-Kazak, Acting Director, Centre for Refugee Studies, York
University, October 2015