Why 65.3 million is such an important number

Virtually everyone knows about the importance of the United Kingdom. Many people, including most of my ancestors, came from there and settled in the U.S. Back a century ago, it was the world’s leading economic power. Now it ranks number five in that regard. Its most current population is estimated at just over 65,100,000 people.

Add another approximately 200,000 people and you would have the population size of an imaginary nation that may surprise you: the estimated number of refugees worldwide at the end of 2015, according to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. Thus, even though imaginary, it would be the 21st largest nation in the world — larger than the United Kingdom and slightly smaller than France. Over half of the refugees are children.

There are more refugees in the world right now (also known as internally displaced persons) than anytime since World War II. Every minute, 24 more people are displaced. Thus the 65.3 million figure has almost certainly increased significantly.

Over half came from these three countries (ranked in number of refugees): Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Ironically, two of the three (Syria and Somalia) are among the countries that newly-elected U.S. President Trump have ordered cannot come into the United States (unless under very extraordinary circumstances). One of his first executive orders mandated that. It was challenged in federal court at two levels, and that executive order was unanimously overturned at both. No one knows what will happen next.

Along with refugees from the above-named countries, there are many who are trying to escape violence in South Sudan and other parts of Africa, desperate people trying to escape violence in Central America by undergoing extremely dangerous circumstances in trying to come to the U.S. via Mexico, and numerous other situations.

Trump said that he wants to make American people safe against being killed by “extreme radical refugees” (a term he often interchanges with “extreme Muslim”). Yet a search on Google shows that there is only a one in a 3.64 billion chance of that happening in the U.S. Contrast that to the one in 960,000 chance of being killed by lightening.

There is an organization based in New York City called International Rescue Committee (www.rescue.org). They have some very interesting material about this subject on their website and suggestions for what you can do. I suggest that you look at it. Likewise, many of the organizations on this HelpingWorldwide website (especially in the “General Humanitarian Organizations” category) are also involved in refugee programs.

If you are an American, think of the Statue of Liberty and reflect on how it applies today. If you are a Christian, remember that Jesus and many other people in the Bible were also refugees.

Two postscripts:

(1) It was on this day in 1809 that President Abraham Lincoln was born. He is probably best known for helping end slavery in the U.S. Many of the current refugee are in situations comparable to slavery.

(2) I live within a 30 minute drive of the Canadian border. Two days ago, our local news announced that public schools in Windsor, Ontario (directly across the river from Detroit) will not allow their buses to bring children into the U.S.(including visits to the Holocaust Memorial in the community where I live) for at least the next month because they are fearful that some may be detained. I don’t think Lincoln would be happy about this situation, and I am not either.

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