7 things you need to know about the refugee crisis

1. Why is it a “global” refugee crisis?

Although most attention is put on the Syrian refugee crisis, TRAC wants to emphasize that refugees are coming from all over the world. Displacement is a reality in many countries, even in the Americas. For this reason, TRAC has decided to sponsor a refugee family without preference to their origin.

In 2015, 53% of the world´s refugees came from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia[1]. These are all countries suffering from brutal wars. Refugees are also coming from Sudan, Congo DR, China, Colombia, Iraq, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and others[2].

2. What is a displaced person?

Displaced people are those who are forced to move from their locality or environment and occupational activities due to a number of factors that include armed conflict, natural disasters, famine, development and economic changes[3]. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)[4]. Perhaps the most alarming case is that of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), those who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border. The number of IDPs is hard to measure, they are not eligible for protection under the same international system as refugees, and don´t have a single international body entrusted with their protection and assistance.

3. What is a refugee?

A refugee is a person who is outside of their own country, has a well-founded fear of persecution due to his/her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable or unwilling to return[5]. To be considered a refugee, one must be outside their home country and be recognized under refugee status. Among the nearly 65.3 displaced people in the world, 21.3 million have refugee status, over half of whom are under the age of 18[6]. Although refugees themselves are already an area of concern, one must also think about the millions that are Internally Displaced and are not even recognized as refugees, and thus are not eligible for the same refugee protection.

*I must add that there are several shortcomings on this original definition of “refugee” taken after the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. These include the fact that people fleeing environmental conditions or natural disasters cannot receive refugee protection.  Regional instruments such as the “OAU Convention” and the “Cartagena Declaration on Refugees” have expanded the term. For more information on the issue please visit this article from the LSE

4. Who grants the refugee status?

Governments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCF) have the primary responsibility of determining who is considered a refugee under international, regional or national law, through a legal process called Refugee Status Determination (RSDs)[7]. In 2013, UNHCR remained responsible for implementing the RSD procedure in more than 50 countries. In another 20 countries, UNHCR conducted RSDjointly with, or parallel to, the governments[8].

5. How many refugees have come to Canada?

From November 4, 2015, to January 29, 2017 Canada has received 40,081 refugees[9]. These come under three different categories: Government Assisted Refugees account for 54% of these refugees, Privately Sponsored refugees for 36% and Blended Visa Office-referred refugees for 10%. British Columbia receives approximately 1664 refugees each year. In 2015, B.C. received refugees from 17 different countries.

6. Under what category does TRAC fall under?

Government Assisted Refugees are those referred to the government by the UNHCR and supported financially by the government for up to one year. Privately Sponsored Refugees are those that are sponsored by a group of people in Canada who volunteer to help them adjust to life in Canada, which includes financial support for up to one year, and emotional and social support that goes further.

Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugees are essentially a mix of both: the UNHCR matches refugees identified for resettlement with private sponsors in Canada. The Government provides 6 months of financial support, and the private sponsors provide for the other 6 months, as well as emotional and social support from the day they come to Canada. TRAC is a sponsorship group working under this category.

7. What does the Bible say about refugees?

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God”- Leviticus 19, 33-34 (NIV).

“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt”- Exodus 23:9

"So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me," says the Lord Almighty”- Malachi 3:5

These are just a few Bible verses among the many that discuss the topic of the foreigner or the neighbour, and how we ought to love them. TRAC firmly believes that it is our Christian duty to care for the refugees in the world. One of the ways we show our love is by learning more about what these people are going through.

After knowing about the issues, we can pray, raise awareness, and act. Thank you for reading through this post. Please, be encouraged to research more about this topic following the links below, and if you want to be involved and contribute, make sure to contact us. Let´s keep spreading awareness and love.

God Bless,

Emilio Rodríguez



[1] UNHCR, “Figures at a glance”. http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] UNESCO, “Displaced person/Displacement”. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/international-migration/glossary/displaced-person-displacement/

[4] UNHCR, “Figures at a glance”. http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

[5] UNHCR, “Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees” http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b66c2aa10.pdf

[6]UNHCR, “Figures at a glance”.  http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

[7]UNCHR, “Refugee Status Determination”. http://www.unhcr.org/refugee-status-determination.html

[8] Ibid.

[9] Government of Canada, “Refugees”. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/milestones.asp