One Reality Story That Shouldn’t Disappear After The Olympics: 10 Things You Should Know About Refugees


The Refugee Nation flag, making its way along a Brazilian beachfront.  (http://www.business2community.com)
 I love the Olympics! I fell in love with the swimming prowess of young Olympian Penny Oleksiak and like many Canadians enjoyed the speed, playfulness and competitive nature of the De Grasse – Bolt rivalry in these recent games in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

It’s in these post-Olympic days most media outlets are sorting out how to keep that Olympic fever alive. Recently for example, CBC online ran an article, “10 Rio Olympics – inspired reality TV show ideas.” I found myself tempted and I clicked on the link. It was a fun list of storylines that arose out of Rio - Oleksiak and De Grasse both made the list (as did Lochte, but we really don’t want to talk about that anymore, do we).

Ironically, you know which story line didn’t make the list? The 10 Olympians that made up the Refugee Team. I recognize that CBC's list was light-hearted humour, but it still struck me as particularly off-putting that the one story that is actually based in reality did not make the list.

The faces of the Refugee Team that competed in the 2016 Olympics in Brasil. Some say they became the face of the refugee crisis for a short time - but for how long?

Over 16 days, the world watched and cheered on these 10 athletes from various countries that made up one team. It seemed that once again our ears and eyes were tuned in to hear the stories of what so many refugees endure. We were in awe of the bravery and resilience that these athletes demonstrated in overcoming barriers to participate.

It begs the questions though, what happens to this global story post-Olympics?  How do we move beyond celebrating these 10 athletes and their remarkable accomplishments over 16 days to something more long lasting and permanent?

Using UNHCR stats and stories, I thought it might be fitting to set out 10 Refugee inspired reality TV show ideas.

1. The crisis is a forcibly displaced issue – not just a refugee issue.


2. The issue extends far beyond what is going on in Syria.


3. It’s estimated that 86% of refugees are residing in developing countries.

4. Most refugees will never experience the opportunity to return home. During 2015, only 201,400 refugees returned to their countries of origin.

5. It’s estimated that 51% of refugees are under the age of 18.

6. In 2015, an average of 24 people worldwide were displaced from their homes every minutes of every day of the year. 

Make-shift homes become permanent dwellings for entire families displaced by disaster or conflict.

7. Average number of years a refugee is uprooted and in need of assistance before they either return home or resettle in another country is 17 years.

8. Less than 1% of refugees ever experience the opportunity of resettling to a third country.  

9. Last year (2015), approximately 12.4 million people were newly displaced because of either conflict or persecution.

The Za'atri refugee camp in Jordan, hosting approximately 80,000 displaced Syrians. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees_of_the_Syrian_Civil_War)

10. If the 65.3 million forcibly displaced people became a country it would be the 21st largest country in the world.

The Refugee Nation flag, said to be inspired by the appearance of a life jacket. (www.therefugeenation.org)

Food for the Hungry Canada is involved in key partnerships with other international organizations that are focused on aiding displaced people groups, helping in places around the Middle East, Syria, and elsewhere.  With you, together we can help relieve suffering and help families get back on their feet.


Melissa Giles is a gifted speaker and educator on issues of poverty and international affairs, having built a career around working for humanitarian aid organizations and having lived in parts of west Africa, the Caribbean, and central and western Canada. She is a passionate advocate for the dis-fortunate of the world, and recently became the founder of Settlement360, a consultancy that specializes in helping Canadians - particularly churches and special groups in western Canada - "equip their community to welcome refugees". For more about Melissa's work with refugee populations and sponsors, visit http://settlement360.org.



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Food for the Hungry: One Reality Story That Shouldn’t Disappear After The Olympics: 10 Things You Should Know About Refugees
One Reality Story That Shouldn’t Disappear After The Olympics: 10 Things You Should Know About Refugees
Food for the Hungry
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