Refugees, Asylum, and Displacement

Currently, the world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced. Refugees constitute 21.3 million of that number, with over half of them being children under the age of 18. Further, 54% of refugees worldwide come from three countries that are Somalia (1.3 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), Syria (4.9 million) (UNHCR 2016). Throughout their journeys, refugees encounter numerous challenges and obstacles. During transit, refugees are often vulnerable to perilous travel routes, hunger, abduction, violence, and trafficking.  Within refugee camps, they face challenges of mobility, access to education, health services, and social networks. For refugees who reach countries of permanent resettlement, such as Canada, numerous obstacles arise during the settlement and integration process. Recipient countries’ policies, attitudes, and preparedness of service providers to meet the needs of refugees, all impact the settlement processes and outcomes. Public perceptions and willingness to accept cultural and racial differences, as well as popular understandings of the citizens and non-citizens, are also key factors in determining a refugee’s transition and settlement in a new country. The current increase in global refugee flows represents a significant challenge that must be understood through increased research into the refugee experience throughout its various stages.