Global Refugee Crisis

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
representatives and ask them to do more to advance refugee issues. If they have
made campaign promises, hold them accountable to these promises.
o The linked resource provides information on contacting government representatives.
o Federal government party commitments on immigration are summarized here.
Sign and/or endorse open letters:

Share refugee-related stories and resources on social media.
Donate and/or raise money for refugee services in Canada and overseas.
o The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) has established a Syrian Refugee Support Fund and has a list of all members across Canada.
o The Government of Canada will match donations made to Canadian organizations responding to the Syrian crisis through the Syrian Relief Fund.

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

Works cited
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). 2015. “How Canada is Helping Syrian and
Iraqi Refugees”.

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