Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


By Elizabeth Lou

June 20, 2016 (San Diego) -- With all the cataclysmic incidences happening around the world, the refugee crisis is one of chief concerns in recent history. Refugees are a population of concern because they are displaced due to unwarranted circumstances including armed conflict and political or religious persecution. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are more than 65 million displaced people in the world. That is approximately the populations of two U.S. states, California and Texas combined. Every year during the month of June, the international community commemorates the plight of refugees, as well as their contributions to their respective host countries.

Although the month of June is globally recognized as Refugee Awareness Month, June 20th is officially recognized by the United Nations as World Refugee Day. This day holds significant meaning for me, not only because of the important work that my dedicated team and I carry out at Nile Sisters Development Initiative, in assisting refugees and other populations of concern in San Diego County (the State of California’s largest refugee resettlement site), but also because I am a former refugee.

In 1996, my young family which comprised of five fledgling children, my oldest son being 10 years old and my youngest daughter only three years old, fled from Sudan with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We, similar to today’s 65 million displaced population, did not know what life we would find, but we had courage. We possessed the courage to aimlessly seek for peace and stability. We were intent on finding a new home, irrespective of the struggles, we wanted to live.

The United States of America was good to us. It welcomed my family and prepared my children to be active contributing members of our society. This was done for us by otherspeople who stood with refugees running from turmoil and in many cases, eminent demise, so that we may live and someday prosper.

Today, I am privileged to be an advocate for refugees, just like the countless others who campaigned for me and my young family. On World Refugee Day (June 20, 2016), join me and millions of other advocates in standing for our humanity. Join us in recognizing the perils that refugees endure on their journey to a safe home, and the countless contributions that they make to their new communities.

We Stand #With Refugees: 

About Elizabeth Lou

Elizabeth Lou is the founder and President/CEO of Nile Sisters Development Initiative, a community-based organization situated in San Diego, CA. Her commitment to the refugee and immigrant populations in San Diego County has earned several recognitions at local, state and national levels including The President’s Volunteer Service Award from U.S. President Barack Obama and the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from the United Nations Association of the USA. Elizabeth can be reached at

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, please contact

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.