Above, an image from Aleppo, Syria in 2014 portrays the sudden displacement of a number of families from their homes due to civil war. Similarly, the people of Amatrice, Italy live in temporary accommodations after their entire town was destroyed by an earthquake.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported that in 2015, 24 people on average were displaced per minute due to war and persecution. This is a total of 65.3 million.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) further reports an additional 19.2 million displacements last year due to natural disasters. Over the past 8 years, it has recorded a total of 203.4 million displacements for this reason alone. There are additional ‘Off-grid figures” which do not capture global trends in displacement. For example, people are forced to flee their homes due to criminal violence, drought and development projects.
The IDMC report also claims that there is no geographical region that was immune to natural disaster. We may all be displaced or become refugees, without notice, at any time. Some of you may have already been through the experience.
Imagine you are displaced and the only possessions you may feasibly bring are what you can carry in a box and or in a backpack. Think about what you would bring? What would be the basis of those decisions – need, want, sentimentality? What would be the minimum that you would need to survive a potentially hostile culture, communication barriers and poor sanitary conditions?
Western culture encourages consumer spending, acquisition, accumulation, ownership and the protection of individual property. Our homes reflect our economic status, larger homes being needed to accommodate our ‘stuff’. But how much space do we really need to live in? The growing trend for the affordability of tiny homes would suggest not much.
From the Living Big in a Tiny House Series
Similarly, travel experiences to the developing world are humbling, and remind us of how little we need to be happy. And sometimes, we are reminded how too much can be a burden and cause great discontent. How many of you have a millstone of a mortgage? How did you get into that economic trap?
When you’ve decided what’s coming with you in your displaced state, write it down.
Adrian Edwards (2016) UNHCR – Global forced displacement hits record high.
IDMC report (2015) http://www.internal-displacement.org/globalreport2016/