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World Refugee Day: Remember the hungry

Many of us are in the heat of summer right now. Imagine having to trek for hours or even days in that hot sun with no food or water. Imagine fleeing for your life because of a war that has engulfed your own community.

Syrian refugees in the Zaatari Camp, Jordan. April 2013.
WFP/Rein Skellerud

When we are outside in 90 plus degree temperatures we at least know cool shelter is nearby. We know that some food and water awaits. When you are a refugee fleeing conflict, you cannot be sure when the suffering will end. You do not know if or when there will be help.

At this very moment innocent people are fleeing wars in Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Syria and other conflict zones. On World Refugee Day (June 20), remember those suffering on these tragic journeys.

In South Sudan women and children are reportedly walking for days to reach safety in Ethiopia and other countries. They are eating roots and foliage in the forest.

In Cameroon people have sought refuge from the war in Central African Republic. They are arriving at refugee camps severely malnourished.

When people are forced to flee their homes, they are leaving behind practically everything. They have no food, no livelihoods and no money to purchase anything. They may have left behind their livestock and other assets. So they need the support of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners.

The largest agency in terms of feeding refugees would be the UN World Food Programme (WFP). In Iraq they are feeding those displaced by the recent fighting in Mosul. For several years now, WFP has been feeding refugees who have fled the war in Syria. This includes providing food in refugee camps inside Iraq. All of this is accomplished through voluntary donations from governments and the public. Sadly, donations are never enough to keep up with the size of these emergencies.

UNICEF is another agency that treats child malnutrition. They are also at the front lines of emergencies where millions have been displaced. The food or milk they provide to a refugee child will save their life, maybe at the moment you are reading this.

On World Refugee Day remember the hungry and malnourished from all the ongoing conflicts. UNHCR estimates that there are over 45 million people who have been displaced by force. They are hungry, tired and afraid.

Every one of the refugees does have a hero in waiting. That can be you. You can be a "food ambassador" and advocate for helping the most vulnerable, the world's refugees. What you say or do can feed someone who is wondering where their next meal is coming from.

Remember that where there is war there is hunger and life-threatening malnutrition. On World Refugee Day think of the hungry. Take them into your homes, so to speak, by becoming a "food ambassador" Speak on their behalf. Tell your church, school or friends about the hungry refugees. That is what can start lifelines of aid that hungry refugees so desperately need right now.

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