Just why do people become refugees?

As Catholics we’re called to welcome refugees arriving in the UK. But why exactly do people flee their homes in the first place?

To mark the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, we spoke to Christine Allen, Director of CAFOD, about the circumstances that force people to become refugees, and how we can build a future of justice and peace for all.

Climate change, persecution, and conflict all play a key role.

“The latest UNHCR report said that in 2020, the numbers of people fleeing war, violence, persecution and human rights violations rose to over 82 million people – 82 million people on the move… we forget that there’s a very significant number of internally displaced people. So people have to move out of where they live, but they’re still within the borders of their countries.

“In terms of the main factors, well, the biggest one is war, violence and conflict – by far the biggest drivers of forced displacement, both within countries and to other countries. What’s interesting is that more than two thirds of all people who fled abroad came from just five countries, and those countries are experiencing war or other kinds of deep political instability and violence. Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, Venezuela. There are many other examples.

“In Afghanistan, CAFOD is supporting local organisations and local partners to assist people facing the crises they’re facing. There are people who need to flee now to reach a place of safety. There are issues delivering humanitarian assistance to people in immediate need and then longer term support, particularly from an Afghan perspective, around women’s rights and long term economic development.”

Find out more about CAFOD’s work and get involved by visiting cafod.org.uk.