From struggle to strength: Empowering refugees on World Refugee Day

20 June is World Refugee Day. Find out why this day is important and what IHP is doing to provide support to those in need.

Every year since 2001, 20 June has marked World Refugee Day. This day, created by the United Nations, raises awareness of the plight of the more than one hundred million people throughout the world who have been displaced from their homes.  IHP’s desire to see an equitable, just delivery of healthcare means that the ethos of World Refugee Day aligns strongly with our values as an organisation and with the work we enable around the world. Our aim of distributing medicine freely to those in need is driven by compassion and our belief in the innate worth of every human being. Often, the more marginalised an individual is, the more they will need healthcare. Therefore, we actively seek ways to assist refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) as we are aware of their vulnerability and often complex healthcare needs. Our work allows them to overcome many obstacles that can go hand in hand with refugee status (such as a lack of finances and an absence of rights), which would ordinarily prevent healthcare access.

In 2022-2023, we reached refugees and IDPs through shipments to 10 countries through seven of our NGO partners. So far this year, we have sent shipments of medical supplies to support displaced people in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Somalia, Gaza and the West Bank. The treatment delivered has varied, from PPE and disaster response equipment to vitamin D and antithrombotic medications. All treatments are supplied free of charge to patients.

Refugee children in a camp in Lebanon

Three out of every four refugees remain displaced for five or more years. This makes healthcare provision vital as refugees and IDPs are removed from their regular healthcare supply for an extended time, often being placed in crowded environments with poor infrastructure, in which new health complications can emerge. Frequently, complex humanitarian situations involve conditions in which poor healthcare outcomes exist alongside the mass displacement of people.

For instance, in Ethiopia, conflict in the Tigray region in the north of the country has displaced more than 2.6 million people. As many people have been forced from their homes and neighbourhoods, people were deprived of medical treatment they’re reliant on, leading to their ailments getting worse. Appointments with doctors were missed, and vaccinations were not administered, leading to conditions not being diagnosed in time and people not being given protection from illnesses due to their IDP status. Looking to combat such complications, IHP has been sending medicine to various IDP camps in Ethiopia, including the Woyneshet IDP camp. One of the recipients of this medicine is Fana, a mother and grandmother. After visiting the clinic with a headache and pain in her arms, she was given ibuprofen which relieved her symptoms.

“I was displaced” and “left with only my clothes due to the conflict... the treatments have worked, and my health has improved.”

A group of people standing in a dirt areaDescription automatically generated with low confidence
Fana at the Woyneshet IDP camp, Ethiopia

Her children and grandchildren were also treated, all without charge. World Refugee Day focuses on the difficult conditions of families such as Fana’s, reminding us that many in the world are struggling due to circumstances out of their control and need our help and support.  

A refugee is a person who has fled their own country

because they are at risk of serious human

rights violations and persecution there.

– Amnesty International’s definition of a refugee –

Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence.

– United Nation's definition of an IDP –

Yet the provision of such medicine is becoming more difficult. Attacks on humanitarian workers are increasing, which is not isolated to Ethiopia but is indicative of an assault on healthcare being witnessed throughout the world. For instance, in Ukraine, the country that has produced the highest number of refugees over the last few years (5.9 million Ukrainian refugees have been recorded throughout Europe), there have been consistent attacks on healthcare infrastructure. Refugees and IDPs therefore frequently live in conditions in which healthcare infrastructure is poor, leading to a direct correlation between the displacement of people and worsened healthcare outcomes, demonstrating the crucial importance of the work IHP is carrying out.  

Such an approach works throughout the world, in a variety of different contexts in which refugees and IDPs have been affected. Later this month, we are sending 6 of our signature Essential Health Packs (EHPs) to the Central African Republic to assist refugees in the region. Many people in this part of the world are displaced, and it is our duty to assist them. In South Sudan, 9.4 million people (76% of the entire population) are in need of humanitarian assistance. This grave situation is complicated by the fact that 2.2 million people are internally displaced, meaning they likely do not have the financial or logistical ability to access healthcare.

IHP works with NGO partner International Medical Corps to ensure IDPs have access to vital healthcare

Recognising this need, IHP partnered with International Medical Corps, operating in Juba IDPs camps, Malakal PoC, and Malakal Teaching Hospital. Recently, we have provided five pallets of assorted medicine, including antibiotics, pain relievers, sexual and reproductive health medications, and antihypertensives. Rita is one of the many people to have benefited from our work in the area. Rita arrived in the Juba IDP camp in 2014 at the age of ten, living on aid provided by various organisations over the following years. At nineteen, she married and gave birth to a child. In May 2023, she brought her child to a clinic within the IDP camp, following which her child was diagnosed with malaria and severe pneumonia. Despite displaying worrying symptoms, she received paracetamol and antibiotics from IHP which have allowed her to return to health and once again be able to breastfeed. Rita expressed her fear of losing her child ‘because of his high fever’ and voiced her feelings of thanks and gratitude to IHP and IMC for enabling her child to receive transformative treatment free of charge:

"We are thankful for International Medical Corps and International Health Partners and their donors for saving many lives of IDPs since 2014… please continue serving us in the camps because we are not sure when we shall return to our homes."

In Moldova, IHP supplied essential medicines to NGO partner, Medical Teams International which were used to support refugees as they arrived in the country

The uncertainty of the fate of displaced people must be met with a specific response from humanitarian organisations such as IHP.

World Refugee Day draws attention to the troubles faced by those who have been forced to flee their homes and livelihoods around the world. Yet, with the increase of global conflicts and climate-change induced natural disasters, the situation is only worsening. As a result, we are prioritising our work with refugees more now than ever before to fulfil our vision of ending the suffering caused by a lack of access to healthcare. Donating to IHP today, ensures that someone’s geopolitical status does not deny them their right to healthcare.

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£5 can help us to give 15 people treatment

£20 will provide 16 children with antibiotics

£100 will provide 83 pregnant women with life saving medicine.

£450 will provide am emergency medical kit to 60 families.

Whatever you give, you could be making a life-changing, even life-saving difference to someone every month.

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£5 is enough to source and send £600 worth of medical supplies a year to people in need; enough to help approximately 50 people around the world.

£10 is enough to source and send £1,200 worth of medical supplies a year to people in need; enough to help approximately 100 people around the world.

£25 is enough to provide around 750 treatments in a year, helping approximately 250 people in need; and for some, is the difference between life & death.

£100 is enough to provide medicines and supplies for approximately 1,000 people a year living in disaster-hit and vulnerable communites.

Whatever you give, you could be making a life-changing, even life-saving difference to someone every month.

Help us deliver access to medicine all year round

Join our giving community and help us transform the health outlook of families every single month.

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