World Refugee Day, observed on 20 June every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. Every day, thousands of families are forced to flee war and violence, leaving everything behind – except their hopes and dreams for a safer future.
More than one million refugees and migrants arrived in the European Union in 2015, mostly from war-torn countries such as Syria and Iraq. However, the UN refugee agency expects fewer than 250,000 refugees and migrants to arrive in Europe via the Eastern Mediterranean in 2016. The flow of refugees via Greece effectively dried up after a string of border closures in the Balkans in February, and a deal in March between the European Union and Turkey to halt migration to Greece.
Refugees and migrants have turned instead to the far longer and more dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Italy. Around 50,000 people have taken this route into Europe so far this year, resulting in more than 2,400 deaths.
To mark World Refugee Day 2016,
IBTimes UK shares 60 powerful photos of people who fled their homes in an attempt to reach safety in the last 12 months.
27 July 2015: Young men look out of the open door of a train carriage heading north from Gevgelija in Macedonia to Tabanovce, on the border with Serbia Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP 9 August 2015: Syrian refugees take selfies moments after arriving on an overcrowded dinghy on a beach on the Greek island of Kos, after crossing a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 11 August 2015: A dinghy overcrowded with Syrian refugees drifts in the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece, after its motor broke down off the Greek island of Kos Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 11 August 2015: Syrian refugees pack the stands inside the national stadium on the Greek island of Kos, as local authorities struggle to cope with the increasing numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in dinghies from the nearby Turkish coast Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 12 August 2015: Refugees check their mobile phones after getting out of an inflatable boat on a beach on the Greek island of Kos Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP 13 August 2015: A young Syrian child looks at the camera as refugees arrive at a beach on the Greek island of Kos, after crossing a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey on a dinghy Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 14 August 2015: Two Syrian refugees watch the passenger ship Eleftherios Venizelos back into the quay on the Greek island of Kos Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 15 August 2015: A dinghy with Syrian refugees arrives at a beach on the Greek island of Kos Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 20 August 2015: Police in Piraeus, near Athens, watch the arrival of Eleftherios Venizelos passenger ship that carries refugees from several Greek Islands Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 27 August 2015: Syrian refugees go under a fence, crossing into Hungary at the border with Serbia near Roszke Bernadett Szabo/Reuters 28 August 2015: Hungarian police detain a Syrian migrant family after they enter Hungary at the border with Serbia Bernadett Szabo/Reuters 31 August 2015: Migrants from Pakistan land on the Greek island of Kos, after completing a journey in a small dinghy to cross a three-mile stretch of the Aegean Sea from Turkey Dan Kitwood/Getty Images 1 September 2015: A boy wears a German police officer's cap as migrants and refugees wait for a bus, after their arrival at the main train station in Munich, southern Germany Christof Stache/AFP 2 September 2015: A Turkish police officer carries the body of a Syrian refugee child named Alan Kurdi – who washed up on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey – after a boat sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos Nilufer Demir/AFP 3 September 2015: Hungarian police stop a family of refugees as they attempt to run away at the railway station in the town of Bicske Laszlo Balogh/Reuters 7 September 2015: Migrants and refugees cross into Hungary, walking over railroad tracks at the Serbian border Dan Kitwood/Getty Images 8 September 2015: TV camerawoman Petra Laszlo trips a man carrying a child as they try to escape from a collection point in Roszke, Hungary. Laszlo was fired after videos of her kicking and tripping up migrants fleeing police spread in the media and on the internet Marko Djurica/Reuters 9 September 2015: Migrants' and refugees' tents are blown away by the wind near a collection point in the village of Roszke, Hungary Marko Djurica/Reuters 10 September 2015: A Syrian refugee kisses his daughter as he walks through a rainstorm towards Greece's border with Macedonia Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 10 September 2015: Migrants and refugees beg Macedonian policemen to allow passage to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia during a rainstorm Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 11 September 2015: A Hungarian policeman pleads with migrants to move away as the bus they are clamouring to get on is full Christopher Furlong/Getty Images 12 September 2015: A Syrian refugee holding a baby swims towards the Greek island of Lesbos Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters 13 September 2015: A young boy wraps up to keep warm as he wakes up to a cold morning at the Hungarian border with Serbia Christopher Furlong/Getty Images 17 September 2015: A man holds his crying child close as migrants and refugees force their way through police lines at Tovarnik station for a train to take them to Zagreb in Croatia Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images 20 September 2015: Migrants and refugees desperately try to board a train heading for Zagreb from Tovarnik station in Croatia Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images 21 September 2015: A man and his child peek out of a train window as other migrants and refugees board the train heading to Serbia after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border near Gevgelija Nikolai Doychinov/AFP 16 October 2015: A child stands beside other migrants and refugees inside a tent as they wait to cross the border with Croatia near the village of Berkasovo, Serbia Marko Djurica/Reuters 20 October 2015: An Afghan family embrace each other upon arriving at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast on an overcrowded raft Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 20 October 2015: A young Syrian refugee carries his disabled relative at the port of Piraeus as they walk with other migrants and asylum seekers to find transportation to central Athens or continue towards the Greek-Macedonian border Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP 22 October 2015: An Afghan man walks through rain and fog on his way to the nearest registration camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 23 October 2015: Migrants are escorted by police from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp in Slovenia Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images 30 October 2015: A refugee prepares to hand over a toddler to a volunteer lifeguard as a half-sunken catamaran – carrying around 150 refugees, most of them Syrians – arrives on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters 1 November 2015: The hand of a dead man is pictured on a beach of the Greek island of Lesbos after boats sank while transporting migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Aegean sea from Turkey Aris Messinis/AFP 23 November 2015: An Iranian migrant – with his lips sewn together – sits on rail tracks at the border between Greece and Macedonia as Balkan countries begin filtering the flow of migrants to Europe, granting passage to those fleeing conflict in Syria and Afghanistan but turning back others from Africa and Asia Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 26 November 2015: A man is chased by Macedonian police officers after he tried to cross the Greek-Macedonian border. Countries along the Balkan route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking refuge in western Europe began filtering the flow, granting passage only to those fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan Yannis Behrakis/Reuters 3 December 2015: A stranded migrant holding a baby shouts near a Greek police cordon following scuffles at the Greek-Macedonian border Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters 6 January 2016: A young Kurdish girl holds her toys as she stands in the mud at a camp in Dunkirk, France Carl Court/Getty Images 14 January 2016: Syrian refugees, stuck in no man's land, wait to cross into Jordan Khalil Mazraawi/AFP 18 January 2016: Refugees walk through a frozen field after crossing the border from Macedonia into Serbia Marko Djurica/Reuters 18 January 2016: A man carrying his belongings walks across a snow-covered field, after crossing the Macedonian border into Serbia Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP
30 January 2016: A man stands by the body of a child washed up on a beach in Canakkale wafter a boat sank in the Aegean Sea while refugees and migrants were trying to cross from Turkey to Greece Ozan Kose/AFP
6 February 2016: An Iraqi boy rests in a car in a refugee camp in the village of Mabrouka, Syria Rodi Said/Reuters 10 February 2016: A woman looks through a train window as migrants and refugees wait for their train to leave Slavonski Brod in Croatia and head to Slovenia Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters 1 March 2016: A young Afghan films burning shacks at the so-called Jungle camp in Calais Philippe Huguen/AFP 7 March 2016: A child stands among razor wire close to a gate at the Greek-Macedonian border Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP 8 March 2016: A man burns a pair of trousers to make a bonfire on a foggy morning near the Greek village of Idomeni where thousands of refugees and migrants are stranded Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP 10 March 2016: A man lights a bonfire in a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border during the Balkan blockade Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP 14 March 2016: People wade across a river in a desperate attempt to cross the closed Greek-Macedonian border Stoyan Nenov/Reuters 15 March 2016: Refugee children play with a stuffed toy in a muddy makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters 20 March 2016: A child stands in a field near a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border Andrej Isakovic/AFP 24 March 2016: Two boys peer out from inside a tent marked with the slogan 'Open the Border' at a makeshift camp occupied by migrants and refugees near the village of Idomeni Andrej Isakovic/AFP 24 March 2016: Boys hold placards while stranded at the Greek-Macedonoan border, two days after a triple bomb attack in Brussels Andrej Isakovic/AFP 7 April 2016: A Macedonian policeman uses his baton to prevent migrants and refugees from breaking through a fence on the Greek-Macedonian border Marko Djurica/Reuters 16 April 2016: A boy holds a placard reading 'Let me go to daddy please' at the Moria detention centre on the Greek island of Lesbos Aris Messinis/AFP 17 April 2016: Children look to the sky as they play with a kite in a field near the Greek-Macedonian border Stoyan Nenov/Reuters 27 April 2016: An elderly woman and her granddaughter sit outside their tent in a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border Joe Klamar/AFP 1 May 2016: A woman passes a map at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees near the village of Idomeni Tobias Schwarz/AFP 4 May 2016: Children's shadows are seen near graffiti in a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees on the Greek-Macedonian border Tobias Schwarz/AFP 24 May 2016: Men react after being rescued off the coast of Libya by the Aquarius, a former North Atlantic fisheries protection ship now used by humanitarians SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) Gabriel Bouys/AFP 26 May 2016: Rescued men protect themselves from the cold with blankets as they wait to arrive in the port of Cagliari, Sardinia, two days after their rescue off the Libyan coast Gabriel Bouys/AFP
To learn how you can help send a message to governments that they must do their fair share for refugees, visit the
UN World Refugee Day site here.