LAHORE - The world observed Refugee Day on Tuesday, during which NGOs encourage the world to commemorate and show support for those forced to flee persecution.

Millions of families are being forced to leave their homes in the wake of conflicts, wars and oppression in world especially from war torn Afghanistan and Syria. Refugees are standing at the crossroads and the purpose of observing the day each year on June 20th is to highlight the ordeal and plight of refugees who are always on their toes to find a home between countries’ borders.

Turkey stands at first with 1,587,374 refugees and majority of whom are from Syria. Pakistan comes second with a 1,505,525 refugee population followed by Lebanon, which hosts 1,154,040 refugees mainly from Syria.

The repatriation of Afghan Refugees has already begun and Pakistan government extends validity of PoR (Proof of Reference) cards until 31st December 2017.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres on the World Refugees Day said, "I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return - only our support in their time of greatest need."

According to UNHCR factsheet Pakistan April 2017, 33,082 Afghan refugees out of 1,415,407 official PoR cardholders repatriated to Afghanistan between 3 April and 30 April 2017. There are reportedly 4,418 Afghan refugees without PoR cards in Pakistan.

UNHCR operates two voluntarily repatriation centers, in Quetta and Peshawar for refugees and returnees receive a cash grant of approximately US$200 per individual.

As of 20 April 2017 some 49,054 Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) families were registered in KP and Fata. Since January 1, 2017, 343 grievances have been recorded and 83 per cent of these cases have been resolved by UNHCR. Since 1 January 157,788 individuals have returned to de-notified areas (areas declared safe for returns after military operations) and cash grant Rs 35,000is distributed to returnees.

Lahore based Afghan Refugees Peace committee members told The Nation that the community is ready to live in Pakistan all they need is government assistance and driving licenses so they could earn some money to make both ends meet. “We love Pakistan and urge the government to make refugees’ oriented policies. There are 10,198 registered Afghan refugees currently living in Lahore and for the last 34 years.”

According to Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) annual Global Trends report, an unprecedented 65.6 million people faced displacement from their homes by conflict and persecution in 2016. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

UN observes the World Refugees Day to acknowledge the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees.

The day was decided on 4 December 2000 by United Nations General Assembly in a resolution 55/76 that from 2001, 20th June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.

According to UNHCR, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his/her country because of persecution, war, or violence.

From beginning of the 2017 till to date, over 77,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe which is considered to be world’s most dangerous routes and more than 2,000 people were reported to have died or gone missing.