Hope Over Fear: Supporting Solutions to the Refugee Crisis

December 09, 2016

Illustration of city street with people holding welcome signs

“While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage: the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.”

– António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

We believe that each and every person on Earth has an equal right to life, love, and - of course! - ice cream. Sadly, with issues like war and climate change affecting more and more communities across the globe, we’re seeing forced displacement at record levels. Now more than ever, it seems that individual rights are very far from equal across the planet.

At Ben & Jerry’s, we support global efforts to resettle those who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution.

The Global Refugee Crisis: Facts & Figures

When President Obama described the refugee crisis as “one of the most urgent tests of our time”, he wasn’t exaggerating. According to recent figures from the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), around 65.3 million people around the world are currently displaced by conflict and persecution – that’s nearly one in every 100 people on Earth!

These figures are staggering on their own, but when we consider that behind each individual number there’s a story - a real person with hopes, dreams, and aspirations just like our own - the sheer scale of human suffering becomes clear.

The Situation in Syria

Soberingly, well over half of all refugees come from just three countries: Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria, with an astonishing 4.9 million coming just from the latter. Their plight was poignantly encapsulated by the heartbreaking story of Eida Karmi, which made headlines in October. The 115-year-old Syrian refugee was carried for hundreds of miles to Turkey on the back of a family friend before making the dangerous sea journey to Greece. The one wish she expressed was to be reunited with her family in Germany, whom she hasn’t seen for five years. Like thousands of others, she’s now sleeping rough in the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, still chasing her dream of reuniting with her family.

A Lukewarm Welcome

The saddest thing? Eida is one of the lucky ones – as we know only too well, many don’t make it out alive. For those that do, the welcome awaiting them is often far from warm. Those arriving by land find their route blocked by fences and closed borders, and huge numbers of people, like Eida, are funneled into dangerously overcrowded camps, in which living conditions are truly appalling. The sheer influx of people continues to strain resources and sour relations, contributing to a worrying rise in a societal narrative of hatred and fear in Europe, and throughout the world. This is compounded by ignorant scaremongering from public figures and the mainstream media, who – let’s face it – really ought to know better.

Learn more and join the fight for human rights here!


Make Ice Cream, Not War!

At Ben & Jerry’s, we’re not just about ice cream. More importantly we believe in a just and inclusive society, with compassion and tolerance for all. Hate and fear will divide us (and already is), and in a globalizing world we simply can’t afford to wall ourselves in and abandon those who are most in need. It's up to all of us to stand up for fairness and equality, and to welcome our global community by showing solidarity with people whose lives have been torn apart by crisis and conflict.


The Route to Resettlement

The overwhelming majority of refugees flee to nearby countries. This means the likes of Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon are shouldering most of the weight, but these nations alone won’t solve this problem.

It’s time for the rest of us to step up to the mark! In Europe, the United States, and beyond, the developed world has an obligation not only to work to end the violence that has led to the crises, but to increase the numbers of refugees we accept.


Learn more and join the fight for human rights here!

So What Are We Doing?

Thankfully, there is hope! A number of organizations, governments, and individuals have already rolled up their sleeves and jumped into the fray.

  • Angela Merkel has held firm on Germany’s open-door policy.
  • Canada continues to set a great example with its progressive resettlement policy.
  • The US recently announced it wants to increase the number of refugees it accepts to 110,000 for next year.
  • September’s UN Leaders Summit successfully secured huge increases in global humanitarian funding.
  • The IRC (International Rescue Committee) is working tirelessly on practical solutions, including improving asylum processing in Greece, and accelerating relocation and family reunification transfers to other EU countries.

Build Relationships, Not Fences!

Clearly, finding a humanitarian solution to this problem is one of the most important issues we face today. Closing the door on people fleeing violence and persecution is not only morally wrong, but it plays into the hands of extremist propagandists, and fuels the very fundamentalist fires that some policy-makers are so afraid of. 

The world needs to come together as one to address these issues if we’re to find a viable long-term solution. Empathy and compassion can triumph over hate and fear, but we all have a role to play in making that happen. We need to stand up and show our world leaders that we stand with the millions of refugees around the world. Sign the petition and make your voice heard today!

Learn more and join the fight for human rights here!