From dance parties to food festivals and urban hikes, millions of people around the world took part in events to celebrate World Refugee Day at a time when the number of children, women and men uprooted by wars and persecution has broken all records.
The event, held on 20 June each year, honours the courage and determination of those who have been forced to flee their homes. This year, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, asked people from all walks of life to join the #StepWIthRefugees global challenge in solidarity with refugees who each year trek 1 billion miles to reach the nearest point of safety.
As a good corporate responsible citizen, Ipsos honoured the call and commemorated with millions of refugees who are now sitting around the world.
In a statement by Ipsos CEO Didier Truchot.to mark this year’s event , he said there were more than 20 million refugees and another who constituted millions of immigrants that had left their countries for political, social, personal security reason and some recurrent economic conditions and hinted that Ipsos was highly concerned by the refugee prizes.
Explaining why Ipsos is concerned with the plight of refugees, he pointed out that as Ipsos is a company with more than 18,000 employees coming from more than 90 different markets, it is a mixed territorial trade organization and it is the mission of the leading global research company to look after the society and to look after the people.
“So it seems that for us as a company we can certainly help for the society, we can certainly help for the refugees to better understand the citizens of the countries in which they are and the citizens of these countries to welcome the refugees to work with the refugees in a way where the refugees will become a positive contributor to the society itself.
Further, he said that the only way to build and dialogue which will be good for our children and for ourselves is an environment where people can easily talk ,work and live together.
“So we have taken three different actions as a company . We have to ensure we use these resources in terms of balance ,knowledge and in terms of technology not just to get more from clients but to contribute to the society.
“And this is the first thing we will do and this is the first thing we are right now doing , is the welfare of the industry because we are developing a new set of research to help us to help the institutions to help the different stake holders to better understand how they can work with refugees and how they can cope with refugees, how they can talk about refugees in a way in which these refugees won’t be seen as aliens or foreign people but will be seen as the people we need to work with that we need to talk with that we need to live with”, he pledged.
According to him, the second element that the global company is working on is how it can contribute to be sure that refugees are not staying refugees forever saying they are very practical and simply story.
“The refugees stop to be refugees when they can work because when somebody can work and gets paid for what is he’s doing , when he can find his position in the society then he stops to feel as a refugee .
“We have made a commitment and this commitment is for Ipsos to hire for a period of 2years- from September 2018 to September 2020 at least 100 refugees. So Ipsos is hiring every year 4000-5000 deformed people”, he informed.
In the Nigeria office, Ipsos members of staff led by their Managing Director , Mr. Chris Githaiga defied the heavy downpour to make sure that the resolve of the global market research leader to share in the feelings of the less privileged was kept alive on June 20 as they walked round their vicinity to commemorate with UN on this important date.
Research Intelligence magazine sampled the opinion of some of the staff who took part in that exercise.
First of all tell us your name and position?
My name is Victor Kabiri , I work with Ipsos. In Ipsos, we have what is called the Ipsos Foundation and this is the arm of Ipsos that goes out to give back to the community, so it’s more of the corporate social responsibility arm. This day marks the UN World Refugee Day ( 20th of June) celebrated across the world and we decided that we will support the UNHCR which is the UN Refugee Agency, dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. So we are calling this the #stepwithrefugees initiative. It’s more of recognizing the fact that refugees have to walk for miles before they can get a place where they will be safe. so we decided that we should just take that step – do that walk and what we are going to do is to look at the number of kilometers that we have covered and multiply it by the number of people that have walked and we will donate those miles or those kilometers to UNHCR’s #stepwithrefugees initiative. Then across the world where we have other companies and organizations , not just Ipsos also sending their miles and kilometers to UNHCR so at the end of the day we have x number of miles or kilometers people across the world would have walked in support of the refugees.
From your account and what you have explained now, how many miles do you think you have walked ?
From the office back to the office we have done 5.9 kilometers and we had about 80 people participating so in estimate we have about 472 kilometers.
Is it a yearly affair?
Yes, this is done every year on the 20th of June and it’s marked as the World Refugee Day.
And you did it last year?
We did not do it last year. This is the first time as a company we are doing it to support the UNHCR because right now Ipsos Foundation is focusing on displaced persons mostly refugees. Initially, we used to support children who are going to school, orphans, widows, but now our focus is on mostly people who are displaced within the same country or people who have to move from one country to another, so that’s why we are taking it as a priority this year to support UNHCR on the #stepwithrefugees initiative.
So how do you feel at the end of it today after the walk?
Very fulfilled and you could see and feel the passion when we were walking because we were walking towards a certain course..
How do you feel having to do it in the rain?
Even more fulfilling because as you know refugees will walk under very harsh weather conditions – sometimes they will walk under the rain, and for them, there is no stopping. They will keep walking until they can find a place where they will be safe. So it’s even more fulfilling. I think it was a blessing as well. A validation of our cause.
So what message are you passing across to refugees all over the world?
We are telling them that we feel their pain. We may not be able to give them shelter or money and other resources but we feel their pain and we support them and we know that they go through pain.
What is your message to the government and to the refugees?
To the refugees, they should just keep pushing on. Life may have dealt them a big blow but at the end of the day everyone has to survive. Life in itself is an endless struggle And to the government, I think they should take more measures to see how they can get these people proper shelter, put their kids in school and provide them with medical assistance when they need it- just take care of their basic needs because they are human beings whether they are refugees or not they are human beings that need to be taken care of.
Is the event powered by Ipsos Foundation?
Yes, it’s powered by Ipsos Foundation to engage all Ipsos offices to come up with unique events to commemorate the world refugee day. As we all know a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.
A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group. They are out of their comfort zone and being deprived of so many things that you and I are enjoying today
Ipsos in Nigeria with help of Ipsos Gives committee have come up with the unique idea of solidarity walk to identify and commemorate the today June 20th being the world refugee day. The miles we will walk will be monetized and will be donated to the refugees. So that’s what Ipsos is trying to do which aligns with Ipsos functions as Ipsos mission for this year is to ensure that those who are out of their comfort zone as a result of insecurity or war, like those in the Internally Displaced camp ( ID camp) who would want to educate their children and also want to see what they can do to help the refugees.
What is Ipsos foundation new mission and how does this event align with the new mission?
In the past, the focus of the Foundation had been to provide general humanitarian assistance to the welfare and education of the less privileged children in society. That mission has now been realigned to specifically focus assistance in providing education to displaced children and youth who have been impacted by humanitarian/natural crises anywhere in the world.
Presently there are approximately 250 million people who do not live in their birth country. These people have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflicts, climate change, and other natural disasters. In such cases, families are often separated, and the number of unaccompanied children and youth is exploding; the Ipsos Foundation will now concentrate its focus on this group.
Is it just to talk about them or are you giving them any alms?
What we are doing is just a solidarity walk to create the awareness of the importance and relevance of June 20th and make impact in the refugee lives by monetizing the accumulated miles and donating the money to them. Ipsos globally have also made a commitment and this commitment is for Ipsos to hire for a period of 2years- from September 2018 to September 2020 at least 100 refugees
What is the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day?
2019 Theme is : #StepWithRefugees . So the event globally is to commemorate UN World Refugee Day. It’s a programme to show concern over the plight of the refugees. In view of this, Ipsos as an international agency is committed to this course by making this an annual event.
How can Nigeria government help this course especially those in the IDP camp?
It is obvious we are going through serious security challenges resulting to incessant killing of innocent citizens on daily basis. The government of the day need to organize security stakeholder’s forum to come up with a better solution to this menace. Currently, we are faced with Boko Haram insurgents and wicked herdsmen in the north while battling with problems of kidnappings in the south.
Citizens are in dire need of urgent solutions to the security issues and this will have a positive impact on the rate of refugees
I want to ask you some questions about what you did today.
Sure. Go ahead.
Your name and your department?
My name is Meme Osuocha. I work in the Qualitative Unit (UU), coordinating all Digital research methodologies in Nigeria and Ghana.
By Digital methodologies what do you mean?
Well, I like to refer to the digital research methodologies as “internet-related research” where we use the advancement of the web to carry out primary research. There are various means to which we achieve this, from building online research communities to analyzing unstructured social media data using machine learning and artificial intelligence. I think it is interesting because it is faster, seamless and robust in detail and also delivers succinct highly visual insights.
Interesting! So, how do you feel after the event?
I feel many things really, hungry, excited and tired, but somewhat invigorated because despite the rain we still carried on with the walk and it was so much fun! (laughs). Everybody was passionate about it, and really wanted to get it done no matter what, so I feel great altogether.
What does the event stand for?
So, today is World Refugee Day and Ipsos in Nigeria decided to join in the UN’s #StepWithRefugees movement. We engaged in a long walk as our own little way of drawing attention to the issue of refugees across the globe. I am glad we had the opportunity to walk in solidarity with individuals and families living as refugees in other countries. The fact that we walked under the rain made it more fun yet realistic, and it helped me, and I believe everyone else, empathize with the refugees globally.
…And it’s not just because the UN compelled you people to do it?
No, we were not compelled in any way to do it.
How do you feel about giving back to refugees?
It feels so good! And the fact that we walked under the rain helped me understand how much the refugees must go through on a daily basis, because they hardly ever have shelter from the elements, often times they don’t have food and it’s hard when there are children. Every day we hear stories of more and more refuges dying or living under such horrible conditions and it teaches one to count one’s blessings.
How many kilometers did you cover?
(laughs) Honestly, I have no idea, because we went through different routes and with the rain, I wasn’t even sure which direction we were headed anymore. The route we took began from Adeniyi Jones going towards Ogba, and we went around through Oba Akran and then all the way to the beginning of Adeniyi Jones and back to the office. It was a really long walk.
Who are the refugees?
Refugees are those who find themselves in other countries where they are not citizens for one reason or the other, it could be hostility and suffering in their own countries, or they might be in search of greener pastures. They find themselves in a situation that often makes it difficult for them to earn a living, take care of their loved ones or themselves or even enjoy basic things like fundamental human rights, amongst other things. They often stay in refugee camps and live in horrible conditions.
The fact that many Nigerians are now refugees in other countries, what does it tell you and how do you feel for them?
Just the mere thought of that is depressing and it is sad that a lot is not been done to help them, in fact, one fears that the necessary authorities are unaware of this fact because most of time no one talks about the refugees.
However, to the refugees out there, if you can read this, please come home. It might seem like Nigeria is heading nowhere, but it is best to hustle in your fatherland than in a place where you are a permanent outcast, where racism, nature and policies seem to work against you.
What do you want the government to do in that regard?
I think the main reason people are running away is because the suffering is too much, and they are looking for greener pastures. If the government can only make it easier to earn an honest living within the shores of the country, if they can create basic amenities like electricity and a conducive corruption-free environment, you would be amazed at how self-sufficient Nigerians can be.