It might seem strange to start a post about World Refugee Day with a story about wildlife, but it was either that or Angelina Jolie. So here goes:
My dog Jeff and I were out for our usual early-morning walk one day last Fall. It was garbage day in my neighbourhood, and most of the residents had put their cans by the curb the previous night.
Still half asleep, I thought I spied something moving among the refuse. When a pair of yellowish eyes turned toward me, my thought process went from a startled Why is that dog off-leash? to Wait — is that even a dog? to [expletive deleted]! That’s a coyote!
I live in an urban area with a population of almost 700,000 — big by Canadian standards. But until recently, there were still undeveloped bits of land to be found around here. Unfortunately, the large field that formerly housed all sorts of wildlife has been bulldozed for condo construction. The animals have been forced to flee, and some are obviously struggling with the change. So the first thought that popped into my head was this: That poor animal was forced out of its home environment and has to find a new one.
Just like a refugee.
Until I started looking, I had no idea there were so many displaced people living in such dire conditions throughout the world. Here are some sobering statistics from the UNHCR’s 2010 Global Trends report:
43.7 million: the number of people who are displaced worldwide.
15,500: the number of asylum applications by unaccompanied children
7.2 million: the number of people in 2010 who were in a protracted refugee situation — displaced for five years or more.
197,600: the number of people who were able to return home in 2010. This is the lowest number since 1990.
The UN Refugee Agency is asking the public to Do One Thing to change this human tragedy. Please check out its website to learn more.