The number of displaced people who have left their home country due to conflict or persecution and received international protection – otherwise known as refugees – has grown within the sub-Saharan region.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says the world is currently facing the highest levels of displacement ever in history, with an unprecedented 65.3 million people forced from their homes by war, internal conflicts, drought or poor economies. Among these are 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18; the rest are economic migrants and internally displaced persons.
People are forcibly displaced at a rate of 34,000 per day due to conflict or persecution. Currently there are also 10 million stateless people worldwide who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment and freedom of movement.
Africa hosts the highest number of forcibly displaced persons – over 24 million. in raising awareness of the plight of refugees, the “Step for Safety” walk, organized by the LuQuLuQu campaign in solidarity with families forced to flee their homes across Africa – draws attention to the perilous journeys refugees have taken to find safety.
Speaking at the launch of the walk at the K.I.C.C yesterday, Raouf Mazou, UNHCR Kenyan Representative said: “I have witnessed first-hand the resilience of refugees, and the generosity of African communities who’ve received families forced to flee as their brothers and sisters, often for decades. The ‘Step for Safety’ walk is another way Kenyans will show solidarity with refugees who take long, difficult steps to secure their safety every day while supporting the empowerment of refugees themselves. This is the spirit of the LuQuLuQu initiative.”
A number of refugees from 13 African countries including South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other affected countries participated in the walk. Joining them will be Kenyans from all walks of life including celebrities, government, UNHCR partners, as well as members of the diplomatic corps.
After the walk, supporters also had an opportunity to walk the steps of a person forced to flee in an experiential simulation of a UNHCR reception centre, refugee registration process, distribution on non-food items and refugee shelter, all designed to build first-hand knowledge of the refugee experience.