World Refugee Day and the Crisis in East Africa

June 20th is World Refugee Day. It is a day set aside each year to raise awareness of people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes. This year, however, the number of people displaced due to natural disasters and human-caused problems has reached an unprecedented 110 million men, women and children.

For some, this means seeking safety elsewhere in their home country. Others have been forced to flee to neighbouring nations, many of which are struggling to cope with the influx. Nowhere are the combined effects of climate change, conflict and food insecurity better illustrated than the current crisis facing many countries across East Africa.

Three years of drought, exacerbated by climate change, have caused repeated crop failures in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. In recent months, the situation changed dramatically as torrential rains triggered flash flooding and the drought-damaged soil was unable to absorb the water. These floods destroyed property, killed livestock, and forced thousands of people to leave their homes in search of food, shelter and medical care.

In Sudan, fighting between various factions since April has killed more than 1,800 people and displaced 1.4 million inside the country. Another 470,000 have fled to neighbouring countries like Chad, Central African Republic and South Sudan, placing even more stress on already overstretched resources for refugees in these countries. Meanwhile, in nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo, 26.4 million people are food-insecure due to conflict and climate shocks. That's a quarter of the country's population, the highest proportion worldwide.

Over the past several months, Canadians have seen devastating wildfires force families to flee for their safety. We know how awful that can be and we are grateful for the support of communities and governments to bring assistance to those who have lost homes and property.

In many countries, sadly, these social support systems are simply not available. Our failure to provide help now could sacrifice millions of people while creating successive generations that know little beyond hunger, conflict and despair.

As the leaders of the Humanitarian Coalition, made up of 12 of Canada's largest international aid agencies, we are in the final days of a month-long appeal to provide life-saving aid to people across East Africa. We are urgently appealing to Canadians to make donations to help us reach as many people as possible. The Government of Canada has committed to match all individual donations made by June 30th up to a maximum of $5 million

The challenges are immense, but we can all help to make a difference. By offering life-saving aid right now and working together toward joint solutions in the future, we can build a safer and more just world -- for today and for generations yet to come.

The Board of the Humanitarian Coalition*

ONOME AKO, Action Against Hunger Canada
ANDY HARRINGTON, Canadian Foodgrains Bank
KARIN ACHTELSTETTER, Canadian Lutheran World Relief
BARBARA GRANTHAM, CARE Canada
ANNE DELORME, Humanity & Inclusion Canada
USAMA KHAN, Islamic Relief Canada
LAUREN RAVON, Oxfam Canada
BÉATRICE VAUGRANTE, Oxfam-Québec
NADJA POLLAERT, Doctors of the World Canada
LINDSAY GLASSCO, Plan International Canada
DANNY GLENWRIGHT, Save the Children Canada
MICHAEL MESSENGER, World Vision Canada

*The Board of Directors consists of the respective CEO or Executive Director of member agencies.

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For media inquiries, contact us at 613-239-2154 or media at humanitariancoalition dot ca


The Humanitarian Coalition (HC) brings together leading aid organizations to provide Canadians with a simple and effective way to donate during large-scale humanitarian emergencies. The HC also partners with Global Affairs Canada to enable its member agencies to respond to lesser-known small and medium-scale disasters.