Honoring Refugees Today

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Neal Porter, MA, MPPM, CVT director of international services

Today, CVT honors those whose homes stopped being home to them, whose sense of safety evaporated, whose communities of friends and neighbors were dispersed by panic, terror and despair. CVT honors the world’s refugees today, on United Nations’ World Refugee Day.

Refugees like Manal, a nurse, who had to flee her city in Syria when she was persecuted for attempting to treat wounded soldiers of the opposition. She fled to Jordan with the nightmare of being dragged through the streets in her nightclothes and thrown into a prison still fresh in her mind.

At CVT, stories like Manal's are accruing as the world refugee crisis swells to proportions unseen since World War II. In 2017, there are 65.6 million displaced people on the run – 300,000 more than last year, living in refugee camps or striving to make some semblance of a life in a city they may not be very welcome in.

The refugee crisis is not just a humanitarian crisis; it’s also a torture crisis.

According to CVT’s research, the number of refugee torture survivors in this country could be as high as 1.3 million. This unimaginable number accounts for up to 44% of all refugees living in the U.S. The anti-refugee flames the Trump administration has been fanning with its repeated attempts at travel bans only serve to worsen an already dire situation. Many of our refugee clients find themselves caught between intimidation, violence, and warfare on one side and on the other a growing disdain from America, once a leader in the human rights movement.

CVT considers this day a call for greater empathy for those who have been uprooted from their homes. Ask yourself, what lengths would I travel to ensure my children's safety? What risks would I take to escape brutality? What would make me give up everything, only to start over with nothing?

Refugees’ troubles don't end when they reach sanctuary as Manal and her husband did in Amman. The toll the trauma takes on an individual can stay with them long after the physical pain of torture ceases. Torture can leave a person ashamed, isolated, unable to contribute to society and haunted by memories. But with proper rehabilitative help, refugees are able to rebuild their lives and return to hope. 

Let’s make this the last World Refugee Day we see another rise in the population fleeing for their lives.

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