- By Mark Simmons, Cord CEO. This week sees the start of Refugee week and the UN 's World Refugee Day.

I have never been a refugee.  I have been asked to leave a country where I was living and that was traumatic enough even with a couple of days to pack up and say goodbye to people we assumed we would never see again, the means to buy six one-way flights out of the country, and the possibility of going anywhere which offered the relatively privileged British citizen a visa on arrival. 

I have had to retreat from violence to a place of relative safety. I have had to learn new languages and adjust to new cultures, but through choice not desperation.

I have never had to flee from everything I have known and loved to escape war, or because it is the only chance of any kind of meaningful future.  I have never walked into a new country with only the clothes I am wearing and no knowledge of whether or not I will ever have the means or the opportunity to go home.

Refugees remind us of some of the most difficult situations which our world faces today.

They remind us of the complexity of violent conflicts the world over, as greed for power or wealth eclipses shared humanity, and as broken relationships erode any lingering trust.  They remind us of the increasing fragility of our planet, as climate change renders homelands uninhabitable and traditional livelihoods untenable and the fight for scarce resources ever more bitter.  They remind us of our shared responsibility to challenge our patterns of relentless consumption and our embedded views of “us” and “them”.

Refugees also remind us of the extraordinary resourcefulness and resilience of people who have often suffered much more than we can imagine.

I for one couldn’t hitchhike across Europe, float across the Mediterranean in a flimsy dinghy, walk for weeks across an unforgiving desert, and then on arrival at a refugee camp in Eastern Chad be interviewed on the radio in fluent Arabic about my experiences and my hopes for the future.  But once I arrived in that refugee camp I would find myself surrounded by tens of thousands of people, including many thousand children who have been born there and known no other home.  I would find myself surrounded by people who start and end every day with uncertainty, and often with fear.  But I would also find myself surrounded by people who thanks to the work of Cord and our partners have glimmers of hope in the opportunities they now have for their children to be educated, or to start a small business – and the resilience and resourcefulness to embrace these efforts and make them life-changing.

Read about our work in Refugee Camps in Chad