1 in every 113 people has been forced to flee their homes. Every 24-minute at least 1 person leaves everything behind. These people have been given a specific term; refugees. Refugees are forced to flee leaving everything they possess to escape the effects of sometimes natural, but most of the times human-made disasters such as war, persecution or terror.
Every year, June 20 is observed as World Refugee Day to raise awareness of the situations of refugees throughout the world. World Refugee Day is also observed to honour the courage, strength and determination of men, women and children who are forced to flee their homeland. It is also the day to recognise the contribution of refugees in their communities and today we are observing World Refugee Day by sharing the stories of courage, strength, determination and the fear behind it.
Here are a few brave Syrian refugees who are afraid, but not ready to give up hope for a better future for their own children and also, for the entire world.
When ISIL came to the town of Raqqa, Khitam Ismail, felt scared and only when they left she felt relieved. She heard the talk of the coming assault on her hometown and also that ISIL would come to recruit her teenage son and take away her daughter.
Khatim borrowed some money, packed whatever she could and left town. Khatim along with her husband and children crossed the border between Syria and Lebanon after 10 days of hardship and made for the Debo Refugee camp. They now live in a tent that is nothing more than a vinyl poster nailed to some wood with nothing much to cover them.
"Everything I bought and owned is now gone. I had everything in my house in Raqqa. Everything you can imagine, now I have nothing. We barely have blankets to cover ourselves with the freezing nights."
Music is their passion and they use it beautifully to send the message of peace. Syrian violinist and composer Alaa Arsheed along with his friend and fellow composer, Isaac de Martin, launched a crowdfunding campaign to play their music along the route taken by Syrian refugees.
Arsheed's family are split between Syria and Lebanon whereas he has taken asylum In Europe after he was granted a music scholarship. Arsheed comes from Sweida in southern Syria and playing the violin takes him back to memories of his hometown. It was after Arsheed's father, who founded an art space and library were jailed that he and his sisters realised Syria wasn't safe for them anymore.
15-year-old Qosay and his two 14-year-old friends Mustafa and Qotiba all hail from Qusayr near Homs. Three years ago Qosay's father was killed and his mother and younger sister Hiyam were forced to flee Syria.
All three friends performed three or four Syrian rap songs that they had seen on YouTube for fun until they met Tony Collins, a Scottish aid worker. 'The Homsies', now with two new female band members hope to earn money from it.
For months, Mahmoud along with other refugees has been dealing with the trauma of war and dislocation. The Syrian refugee camp in Greece where he has been stranded is filled with people who are on the verge of depression and to lift people's spirit Mahmoud along with a few friends decided to organise a TV-style talent show.
Hundreds of people tune in to watch the show that is being broadcast on an Internet channel but hundreds of others feel the upbeat show is insensitive as so many families are in mourning and desperate for resettlement.
Anas Modamani was one of the most recognisable refugees in Germany as his selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel went viral, becoming a symbol for Merkel's refugee policy. But it was the same selfie that changed Modamani's life. That photo of his has appeared in numerous false stories on social media falsely accusing him of being a terrorist.
"I cried when I saw it," said Modamani, then 19. "I want to live in peace in Germany. I fled from the war and bloodshed in Syria to live in safety ... I was too afraid to leave my house after I saw what people wrote about me. This is not just my problem. It's a problem of our time."
Modamani has already taken Facebook to court and legal proceedings are under way but he still feels scared and helpless.
A former chef from Damascus has turned a journalist in Greece to chronicle the daily struggles of fellow refugees. The videos have given the refugees a platform to vent their anger and show their poor living conditions.
Omar al-Shogre was amongst thousands of people jailed in Syrian regime prisons and more than 17,000 people died in custody including his two cousins. Tortured and starved to an unimaginable extent across 10 prisons in 3 years, Shogre still describes his imprisonment as "the most beautiful days of my life".
Shogre's nights are still filled with the horrors he encountered and gets nightmares about him being tortured, his cousins being killed, rapes, beatings, death. It's those life learning in prison that made him human and he knows the difference between being alive and being human.
A pink patch covers the blind eye of ten-year-old Hala Shaheen who lives with her parents at the Rukban refugee camp in the no-man's land between Syria and Jordan. Hala was receiving successful treatment before the outbreak of Syria's war but when the ISIL attacked Hala's hometown Tadmur her family was forced to flee.
Leaving home also meant leaving any hope for improving Hala's vision and now she is totally blind in one eye and increasingly going in other.
Moamer Swaida, a math teacher is one of the roughly one million Syrian refugees living in Jordan who are prohibited from working in white-collared jobs. Since Swaida has fled to Jordan four years ago leaving the safety of his home and job as a math teacher in Deraa, Syria, he has not had a proper job and is taking coding lessons being organised by Refugee Code Week who wish to train 10,000+ people across the Middle East.
Abu and Um Ibrahim have four children but not one of them goes to school. Originally from northern Aleppo countryside, the Ibrahim's illegaly crossed into Lebanon some three years ago and since then have been trying to get their children to school but in vain.
"We've been trying for the last three years, standing in line and pushing to get a turn, but they always say there's no space in school."
Syrian refugees, besides being have to flee their country under dangerous circumstances haven't been able to get security in the countries where they have got asylum. They are constantly being targeted with hate crimes and even young children are not left out of it. Constant attacks on shelters for asylum seekers and other hate attacks make the lives of refugees even more difficult.
Hussein al-Azziz never went to any camp and started working on farms since he arrived in Jordan in 2013. The Aleppo native has been working illegally but now has a job permit. Earlier it was hard for the 21-year-old to work as he was constantly threatened by authorities but since the country's labour market has been open to Syrians many refugees have started coming forward and are not afraid.
"I like my teachers and toys and I have fun with other kids", says the five-year-old Cemile Muhammed who along with her two brothers started going to Willow Park Junior Public School in Toronto. Although their father knows it's a long struggle ahead, he is still happy their family got a chance for a happy life in Canada. The Muhammed family fled from Aleppo four years ago and before moving to Canada in February 2015 they stayed in Gaziantep on the Turkish-Syrian border.
Having fled Aleppo six years ago, Fatin Kazzi, an English Literature teacher in Syria was unable to find work in Beirut. Her husband found sporadic carpentry jobs and it made it difficult for them to pay rent and provide for their three children.
Being her first attempt at gardening Kazzi feels it has helped her find comfort in trying times. Her garden blooms with strawberries, mint, basil, peppers, celery and more and more refugees in Lebanon are now growing their own food in rooftop gardens.
"I don't have a country, I don't have any papers, I don't have anything. I have only to stay here, nothing else." Fadi, 21-year-old (not the one in the image above), first came to Turkey hoping to return back to Syria in a year but five years later he is still trapped. He left Damascus at 17 as he didn't want to go into the military and kill people. After a lot of struggle he now describes his job as "comfortable", but without the work permit or the temporary protection, Fadi feels his position in the country is tenuous like hundreds of other refugees.