Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota

Who are Refugees?

Imagine this: You have lived your whole life in peace, surrounded by friends and family. Then, without warning, everything changes. Lifelong neighbors suddenly hate you. Your home is destroyed. Dodging bombs and bullets, you flee, taking nothing with you but your life. Then, if you are lucky, you find yourself in a foreign land, alone, bewildered, but safe. You are a refugee.

International law defines refugees as people who are unable or unwilling to return to their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or belonging to a particular social group. What international law does not describe is the sheer courage and hope that characterizes most refugees, wherever they are.

Approximately 80 percent of the world's refugees are women and children. On World Refugee Day, we celebrate the tenacity and quiet strength of the millions of mothers and wives who hold their families together in the most difficult circumstances. They are true heroes, and they deserve our respect.

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