On World Refugee Day a total of 65.3 million people remain displaced throughout the world. That’s eight people fleeing their homes in fear every minute. Of these, 21.3 million are defined as refugees, people who fled their countries due to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Though refugees come from many countries, the United Nations reports 54% of this population flees from just three countries: Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa host the majority of these people; in fact 80% of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries.

More than half the world’s refugees are children under the age of 18. These children are forced to leave their schools before they graduate and often never return. Though education is seen by the UN as a basic human right, the resources and personnel to provide school in refugee camps fall devastatingly short.

Refugees in their own country

In Afghanistan, many refugees who fled to Pakistan are being forced out of border camps back to their home country but not to their homes. These groups of people, called returnees, have been displaced twice. Many are flooding the tent cities outside of Jalalabad. Amnesty International reports that the number of Internally Displaced People (IDP), including these returnees as well as people who have fled their homes but haven’t left Afghanistan, has doubled to 1.3 million in just three years.

One of these communities, Kamp-e Farm Hada, is home to internally displaced people and a growing number of returnees. These growing numbers are straining already scarce resources in the camp, including the demand for education.

Central Asia Institute is working with our in-country partners to ensure every child who wants to learn can attend school. This can be a challenge as the 21-year-old school has no formal structures and inadequate facilities. The school has only 64 teachers to accommodate the nearly 4,000 students who attend. School days are split in half with girls attending in the morning and boys in the afternoon.

Ensure every child receives an education

These students are the poorest in Jalalabad, but their desire to learn is the strongest. CAI provides funds for the schoolbooks, papers, pens, uniforms, and book bags. CAI also supplied two new tents, but the village needs more to support the growing number of students. Principal Owsubila works day and night to ensure every child receives education. He has six daughters and four sons of his own, and every one of them is learning to read.

The school lacks desks, chairs, a chalkboard and computers for technology classes. The students work hard and are desperate for English and computer classes. They understand that education is the only avenue out of poverty. With a proper school, the necessary supplies, and the help from people around the world, the children of Kamp-e Farm Hada know they can be more than just refugees.

On World Refugee Day CAI recognizes the hardship and dangers faced by these people, but we also honor their determination, bravery, and desire for education. As long as there are children who desire education, CAI will continue working to create that possibility.