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The Medyka border crossing from Ukraine to Poland, photo by Francesco Pistilli/IRC

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International Rescue Committee

A Refugee Primer

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You've seen the heart-wrenching pictures of Ukrainians fleeing their homes. When we first teamed up with our #VBGIVESBACK partner, the International Rescue Committee, it was 4 million people. A mere month later and we're about to hit a grim milestone: 6 million.

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Also devastating: 6 million only covers the refugees who have fled Ukraine. It doesn't include the 6.5 million thought to be displaced inside the war-torn country. Zoom out and the figures are even more staggering. Did you know, for instance, that there are 84 million refugees in the world, a record high?

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And if you're wondering what those terms really mean—refugees vs. internally displaced person, not to mention migrants and asylum seekers—then keep reading. Here, we share a primer on key lingo and fast facts about the crisis—and meet a community enacting real change to create a better life for everyone.

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WHAT'S IN A NAME

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Refugee: A person who has been forced to flee their country because of war, violence, or persecution, often without warning.

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Internally Displaced Person (IDP): A person fleeing conflict or persecution inside their own country. This isn't a legal status because they are still under their country’s jurisdiction—which makes helping them more difficult.

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Asylum Seeker: A refugee seeking refugee status, which is a human right under the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Asylum seekers must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution.

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Immigrant: A person who makes a conscious decision to leave his or her home and move to a foreign country with the intention of settling there. Many become lawful permanent residents and eventually citizens.

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Migrant: A person who is moving from place to place (within his or her country or across borders), usually for economic reasons such as seasonal work. Similar to immigrants, they were not forced to leave their native countries because of persecution or violence, but rather are seeking better opportunities.

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FAST FACTS

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Refugees from Chernihiv, Ukraine, now in Poland, photo by Andrew Oberstadt/IRC

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• There are more than 84 million refugees in the world, a record high—that's greater than the population of Germany.

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• 70% of refugees today come from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Ukraine.

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• 85% of refugees are hosted in developing countries. Turkey hosts the most refugees globally with 3.7 million, followed by Colombia, Uganda, Pakistan, and Germany.

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• In the U.S., refugees are vetted more intensively than any other group seeking entry. Requirements include being registered by the UN refugee agency and six security database checks and biometric security checks. The process typically takes up to 36 months and is followed by further vetting after arrival.

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• Freddie Mercury was a refugee. Albert Einstein and Madeleine Albright, too. So are Iman, Mila Kunis, Rita Ora, Balenciaga's Demna Gvasalia…

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THE IMPACT ON WOMEN & CHILDREN

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• Women and girls are half of all refugees and displaced people worldwide—but only 4.5% of aid protects their rights.

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• 1 in 5 women refugees and internally displaced women experience sexual violence.

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• Women and children are 90% of those fleeing Ukraine and 70% of those fleeing Syria.

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• Refugee women could generate and contribute $1.4 trillion to the annual global GDP. If we invested in economic opportunities for women refugees, we could help close gaps in poverty, gender equality, and inclusive work—all while helping economies on a local and global scale.

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WORKING FOR GENDER EQUALITY IN SOUTH SUDAN

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IRC's Women & Girls Safe Space in Jamjang, South Sudan, photo by Adrienne Surprenant/IRC

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As mentioned above, women and girls are often the ones who suffer the most in a crisis. But in Jamjang, a remote area of northern South Sudan, women and men are working together for gender equality to help create a better life for everyone in their community. There, at a Women and Girls Safe Space run by the International Rescue Committee, women gather and talk about their concerns, staff offers support for those who want to report gender-based violence, and men take classes on how they can better treat the women in their lives. We take a closer look here.

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Tabetha, photo by Adrienne Surprenant/IRC

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Tabetha, 33, IRC Case Manager
“My past has been a struggle,” says Tabetha, who once lived in a refugee camp in Kenya and now runs “coffee, tea and talk” sessions where women gather at least once a week to talk about their concerns. "I have endured hardship. But I don’t want anyone else to have to endure this hardship. I want [the women who attend the sessions] to be aware of their rights. I want them to know what they can do. If I have a daughter in the future, I want her to grow up in a world in which equality is improved. I have been motivated through my interaction with the women. My role models have been the ones with initiative. Change will be brought about not by me alone, but by all of them. It starts with me, then it spreads to them.”

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Nyanibioch, right, with her daughter Nyaboj, photo by Adrienne Surprenant/IRC

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Nyanibioch, 42
Nyanibioch believes men and women need to have equal rights so that women don’t have to depend on men for their livelihoods. Her daughter, Nyaboj, has recently finished her studies in the capital city, Juba. “What I have realized is, when you let a girl go to school …there is a lot to be gained,” says Nyanibioch. “A woman who perseveres, who works hard, can earn a little something for themselves. She can support her child alongside her husband, both contributing.”

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Riak, right, with his wife, Nyathon, photo by Adrienne Surprenant/IRC

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Riak, 39
Riak has participated in IRC sessions where he learned about women’s rights and why running a household isn’t solely “women’s work.” He shares household duties with his wife, Nyathon. “I’m happy to embrace new things as a husband,” he says. “I will cook or fetch water. If I see that she’s tired doing housework, I’ll take over. Your life should involve you and your wife sharing tasks. It is a way of living in harmony.”

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Nyanlou, left, with her best friend Akon, photo by Adrienne Surprenant/IRC

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Nyanlou, age 33
“The most important thing is women helping other women,” says Nyanlou, who sells food in the local market. “A strong woman is an educated woman. I want my children’s lives to be different: for them to go and get training—that will change their lives.”

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Imagery and story used with permission of the International Rescue Committee. © International Rescue Committee

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From April 1, 2022, to June 30, 2022, Veronica Beard will donate a dollar amount from every sale on veronicabeard.com worldwide, to the IRC, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression or violent conflict. The company will also donate 10% of all retail sales made in the United States on April 7, 2022, and June 1/2, 2022 (#VBGIVESBACK) to the IRC. Company guarantees a minimum donation of $150,000 USD. For more information, visit www.rescue.org. No portion of the purchase price is tax-deductible.

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