A record number of people, more than ever in our lifetimes, are fleeing their homes due to wars, persecution, and disasters. Nearly 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute, amounting to 28,300 people each day. Roughly 65 million people are currently displaced worldwide, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. This figure is about the size of the population of France or the United Kingdom. About 22 million of the displaced are refugees (displaced across country borders). And more than half of whom are under the age of 18.
Today on World Refugee Day, we call on the international community to provide compassion for the displaced and support and solidarity for those working tirelessly to help them. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what we can do to overcome inaction, indifference, and fear.
Two areas in need of attention, as today’s news has so painfully affirmed, are enhanced water rescue operations and more viable and safer alternatives for those in need of international protection. Today we learned that several ships that disembarked from the coast of Libya over the weekend sank and more than 120 refugees are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.
The death toll this year of refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean passed 1,000 in April, a number that wasn’t reached until the end of May last year. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicates that during 2017 so far, at least 1,850 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean.
As we’ve covered extensively on this blog, the financial inclusion industry is well-positioned to support internally displaced individuals and refugees. By offering payments, credit, insurance, and savings products, inclusive finance providers can help refugees stay connected to sources of financial support, transition beyond reliance on economic assistance programs, and ultimately contribute to their host countries.
Here are a few of our previous posts for you to read, or re-read. They offer an introduction to the topic of financial inclusion of refugees, outline the challenges and opportunities to serve this especially vulnerable client segment, including via new technologies and business models, and share success stories for others to learn from.
- Financial Inclusion of Refugees: An Introduction, by Daniel Balson, Lead Specialist for Eurasia and MENA, the Smart Campaign
- Financial Inclusion of Refugees: Azerbaijan Case Study, by Daniel Balson, Lead Specialist for Eurasia and MENA, the Smart Campaign
- Financial Inclusion of Refugees: Al Majmoua in Lebanon, by the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF)
- The Digital Demands of the Displaced: Don’t Track Me, Don’t Expose Me, Don’t Cut Me Off, by Kim Wilson
- Refugees and Humanitarian Assistance: Which Kind of Aid Is Best?, by Jeffrey Riecke, Senior Specialist, CFI
- Financial Inclusion and Immigration in Europe – Disrupting Identity Norms, by Brenda Santoro and Ahmed Dermish with Kim Wilson
- The Future of Refugee Financial Inclusion, by Daniel Balson, Lead Specialist for Eurasia and MENA, the Smart Campaign
Whether you work in the inclusive finance sector or not, we hope you’ll take action. For more information, head to the UN Refugee Agency website.
Image credit: Julian Buijzen via Flickr.