Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark has written an article for the Danish Refugee Council on their website. This was done on the occasion of the organisation’s 60th anniversary. As patron, Mary wrote about the refugee crisis going on in the world. Her Royal Highness became the patron of the Danish Refugee Council in 2005.
The article, which was published on the Danish Refugee Council’s website on 1 November, includes personal photos from the trips the Crown Princess has taken to visit with refugees in the Middle East and Africa. She explains in one of the photos, “Refugee camps have in many places changed from temporary shelter to actual cities.Dadaab in Kenya established in 1991 and now houses nearly 300,000 refugees.”
Her Royal Highness’s article began with a quote from a Syrian refugee from a camp in Jordan called Za’tari, “My greatest wish is to return home and rebuild my country and my life.”
You can read Crown Princess Mary’s article below:
The words I hear again and again during my travels with the Danish Refugee Council around the world. The words say that many refugees are displaced, and their greatest wish is to restore the life they had – and which circumstances have forced them to leave.
My ambition with this post was actually just to write a few lines about the refugee crisis and the Danish Refugee Council’s work. But as they say: “I would have written something short, but I had no time.” I actually had enough time, but the problem is so complex that I think it should be several lines.
The number of refugees has grown significantly. Today, there are more than 65 million people fleeing their homes. At the same time, the typical refugees leave for a long time – 17 years on average. It is partly due to the conflicts, and the crises around the world have changed and last longer. This results in additional challenges, especially for the most vulnerable groups such as children and women. And it places greater demands on the aid work being done by the Danish Refugee Council.
It has been 60 years since the Danish Refugee Council was established temporarily to handle the refugees from Hungary. The idea was that the organisation should be abolished, as the crisis was over – it was not true.
In the ten years I’ve been a patron of the Danish Refugee Council, it has grown to become a major international relief organisation with stakes in about 40 countries. A development that we can be proud of in Denmark, but unfortunately, also, an expression of the need for help is greater than ever before.
The Danish Refugee Council helps more than 2.5 million refugees who are displaced annually, both in the world and here at home. The organisation provides life-saving humanitarian assistance in the midst of the crisis. It may be shelter, water, food and warm clothing. It promotes dialogue and conflict prevention between the warring parties, helps with integration where there is a need, and provides assistance to refugees to return home.
At the same time, the Danish Refugee Council assumes the role of advocate – locally and globally – for the refugees and displaced people, who often have difficulty getting their voices heard.
Over the past many years, I have, as patron of the Danish Refugee Council, visited several camps for refugees and internally displaced persons. In different countries, in different camps and created based on various reasons – from Dadaab in Kenya to Za’atari in Jordan to Say Tha Mar in Myanmar and Tierkidi in Ethiopia.
On travelling, it has been clear to see that the camps have changed from being temporary to being real communities where people live permanently – unfortunately for many, without the ability to support themselves or create a future.
The Danish Refugee Council has been able to adapt its activities and growth to this sad development which we are all witnessing. The refugee crisis is a global problem requiring a global solution. It requires broad cooperation and the right partnerships. In 2007, the Danish Refugee Council made a strategic partnership agreement with UNHCR, and today the Danish Refugee Council is one of the UN’s largest and most preferred partners in refugee work. It testifies to the Danish Refugee Council professionalism and efficiency.
The refugee problem is, right now, one of the world’s greatest challenges. It will probably not change in the near future. Experience suggests that when a problem is long-term, it risks losing the international community’s focus. This must not happen.
Today, the need for using much greater than the resources that are available. For the affected people to flee means, for example, fewer food rations, lack of heat in the winter and less access to other things such as education and medical care. And that comes on top of the unbearable tragedy of loss and fragmentation of families.
When we talk about the world’s refugees, it is hard to relate to such high numbers. But it’s not hard to be touched by the faces and personal stories behind the numbers.
Today, the Danish Refugee Council has nearly 6,000 employees – the vast majority in the world, and many volunteers who help locally in Denmark. Sunday, 6 November, the number of volunteers for a single day grows: On this day, more than 20,000 people will go back to the streets to participate in the annual national gathering.
I am proud to be the patron of the Danish Refugee Council and of the organisation’s work to ensure that refugees not only survive – but survive with dignity and hope.
I would like to wish the Danish Refugee Council a good national gathering, and big thank you from here to all workers and volunteers for their time and dedication.
The Crown Princess signed the letter at the bottom, simply as “Mary”.
You can read more about the Danish Refugee Council here.