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Today, there are more than 45 million people around the world who have fled their homes due to war or persecution.  Behind this sobering statistic lie the stories of real people – mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents and infants whose political and social safety nets have suddenly disappeared and who have been forced to leave their homes. Here are their words:

It’s a really bad experience to leave your homeland. Where you were born, lived … your community.
~ Hashmat, Afghanistan

Leaving my country was like death for me.
~Leilah, Syria

[A woman] told me this place is not safe for you. You better go. I told her, where? She told me – just go. … I didn’t take anything from that house, not even a single cloth.
~Hawa, Kenya

Tomorrow, June 20th, marks World Refugee Day, a day to honor the lives of refugees and to encourage action to support them.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) exists to protect refugees and to address refugee-related problems around the globe. Since its creation in 1950 by the UN General Assembly, UNHCR has provided safety and emergency assistance to tens of millions of people from Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Currently, UNHCR assists 34 million people worldwide, providing tents, shelter, supplies, and other life-saving services to people in countries including Syria, Mali, Sudan, and the Congo.

Each of us can help UNHCR in its crucial work to protect people such as Zeinab, Hashmat, Leilah, Alek, and Hawa.

On World Refugee Day this year, show your support for refugees by raising awareness or making a donation. Visit to learn more.