A new United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report states that the number of refugees and internally displaced people is at an 18-year high with the crisis in Syria moving to the forefront as the leading factor of this trend.
The information was released in the days leading up to the annual World Refugee Day, 20 June, which is a day to put the brutal realities facing refugees into the public eye. The UNHCR is making an urgent appeal due to the crisis situation in Syria with the tag: "In 1 minute a family can lose everything – In 1 minute you can help them"
According to the UNHCR website, by the end of 2012 "more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011." The website also states that war remains the main cause and that one of the harsh realities for refugees is an unprecedented level of children and unaccompanied minors being displaced. "Children below age 18 make up 46 percent of all refugees. In addition, a record 21,300 asylum applications submitted during 2012 were from children who were unaccompanied or separated from their parents. This is the highest number of unaccompanied or separated children that UNHCR has recorded."
This information is something that weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of everyone at the Refugee Mission of the RCH's Reformed Mission Centre, however, the Mission is choosing to celebrate World Refugee Day on a positive note with the official opening of its new community centre in downtown Budapest. Refugees, program directors, social workers and volunteers alike will gather to christen the new building and all of the blessings it brings to the Refugee Mission.
The community center serves as a place for refugees to meet for language lessons, tutoring, or simply a relaxed space to hangout and watch movies together. It also houses the main offices for the Mission's social workers, who work with refugees to help them navigate the Hungarian bureaucratic channels. In addition, the building provides a home for an afterschool development program, a library with refugee and migration related material (mostly used by university students working on theses focused on migration topics), and a library specifically for refugees, which will be filled with Hungarian textbooks and reading materials in different languages.