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Yesterday, MB Life celebrated World Refugee Day with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the agency of the UN that caters to refugees.

World Refugee Day is a special day that honors refugees all around the world who have been displaced from their homes.

Last 2018 numbered the highest refugee count ever with over 70 million displaced individuals due to conflict, war, or persecution. In an effort to raise awareness for the refugee crisis, the UNHCR has teamed up with UN Goodwill Ambassador Atom Araullo for a new collective effort.

Entitled “2 Billion Kilometers to Safety”, the global campaign is a virtual walk or run where participants all over the world are challenged to cover two billion kilometers – the same distance refugees do annually to reach safety. The distances can be counted on fitness apps, or logged directly to the campaign’s website.

Participation in the campaign is voluntary and free, and highly encouraged. Donations are also welcome, with the UNHCR aiming to raise over Php 795 million to help deliver support – protection, shelter, health, and education – to refugees as soon as they reach safety in the next 12 months.

Such efforts by the UNHCR have been helping refugees for decades, one example being Maher from Pakistan; in 2017 Maher finally became a naturalized Filipino citizen. Araullo even took a moment to ask Maher how his life has been since moving – his Filipino is exceptional and claims to make the ‘best shawarma in the city’.

Maher was in his 30s when he left Pakistan because of conflicts. He is now 67 and happily married, and even tries to help in reliefs like in 2013’s Typhoon Yolanda where he brought to Tacloban relief goods for 200 people. When Atom asked Maher if Filipinos were nice, he joyfully said “Filipino eh!” since he was now a Filipino too.

UNHCR has around 16,000 people globally working to assist refugees, but the acts of solidarity by the local communities are what help sustain support. Now you too can play a part, all it takes is a step – and together, two billion kilometers.

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