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51 Most Powerful Refugee Quotes for World Refugee Day

Refugees Quote Graphic: "No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark." — Warsan Shire‍

The refugee crisis is a humanitarian issue that continues to touch every corner of our globe. Today, there are millions of refugees worldwide, each with their own unique story of resilience, hope, and survival against overwhelming odds.

These individuals have been forced to flee their homes due to war, persecution, or natural disasters — often embarking on dangerous journeys in search of safety and a better life. They represent some of the most vulnerable populations in the world, yet their courage and strength in the face of adversity are remarkable.

Various world leaders, artists, thinkers, humanitarians — and even refugees themselves — have shared their perspectives on the refugee experience, shedding light on their hardships, resilience, and unwavering hope for a safer future. 

Their words serve as a stark reminder of our shared responsibility to protect and support refugees.

We’ve gathered a selection of powerful quotes about refugees in this collection. These quotes underscore the importance of compassion, empathy, and understanding in addressing the global refugee crisis. They remind us of the shared humanity that connects us all and the importance of standing in solidarity with those in need.

Whether you’re looking to celebrate World Refugee Day this year — or are simply a humanitarian, advocate, or someone who cares deeply about global justice and human rights — these quotes will provide a profound perspective on the refugee experience. 

Read on to gain a deeper understanding of the lives, struggles, and hopes of refugees around the world:

The Best Quotes By Refugees and About Refugees

Famous Quotes

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”
— Warsan Shire

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” — Warsan Shire

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

— Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

“Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” — Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

“It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks.”
— Dina Nayeri

“It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks.” — Dina Nayeri

“Either you lose hope completely and you shatter and break into pieces, or you become so resilient that no one can break you anymore.”
Malala Yousafzai, We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World

“Either you lose hope completely and you shatter and break into pieces, or you become so resilient that no one can break you anymore.” — Malala Yousafzai, We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World

“No one chooses to be a refugee. We all deserve to have a home and to be safe.”
— Hangama Amiri, in a tweet

“No one chooses to be a refugee. We all deserve to have a home and to be safe.” — Hangama Amiri, in a tweet

“Seeking safety is a right and it needs to be upheld for every person. Protecting people forced to flee is a collective global responsibility. We have to remember this could happen to anyone, anywhere.”
— Ben Stiller

“Seeking safety is a right and it needs to be upheld for every person. Protecting people forced to flee is a collective global responsibility. We have to remember this could happen to anyone, anywhere.” — Ben Stiller

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions.”
— George Washington

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions.” — George Washington

“We have a legal and moral obligation to protect people fleeing bombs, bullets and tyrants, and throughout history those people have enriched our society.”
— Juliet Stevenson

“We have a legal and moral obligation to protect people fleeing bombs, bullets and tyrants, and throughout history those people have enriched our society.” — Juliet Stevenson

“Refugees don’t make our country less safe. But xenophobia, fear and hate do.”
— Ted Lieu

“Refugees don’t make our country less safe. But xenophobia, fear and hate do.” — Ted Lieu

“I have mentioned these girls’ stories not in a way to show them as victims, as people who are suffering right now, but also they’re courageous, they’re brave. They’re overcoming these difficulties. So we have a lot to learn from these young girls.”
Malala Yousafzai, in an interview

“I have mentioned these girls’ stories not in a way to show them as victims, as people who are suffering right now, but also they’re courageous, they’re brave. They’re overcoming these difficulties. So we have a lot to learn from these young girls.” — Malala Yousafzai, in an interview

“Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us — except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.”
— Khaled Hosseini

“Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us — except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.” — Khaled Hosseini‍

“It takes tenacity, creativity and bravery to get yourself and your family to a new country to begin your life over again. In my opinion, countries should be competing for refugees. But at the very least, everyone should have a safe place to call home and a safe way to get there.”
— Becca Heller, in a TED Talk

“It takes tenacity, creativity and bravery to get yourself and your family to a new country to begin your life over again. In my opinion, countries should be competing for refugees. But at the very least, everyone should have a safe place to call home and a safe way to get there.” — Becca Heller, in a TED Talk

“Refugees are not terrorists. They are often the first victims of terrorism.”
— António Guterres

“Refugees are not terrorists. They are often the first victims of terrorism.” — António Guterres

“The United States should be an asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty.”
— Thomas Paine

“The United States should be an asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty.” — Thomas Paine

“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day.”
— Nadia Hashimi

“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day.” — Nadia Hashimi

Quotes By Refugees

“Being a refugee is not a choice. No one chooses to be a refugee. It is imposed by different tyranny governments and people are escaping their own governments.”
— Ali Saeed

“Being a refugee is not a choice. No one chooses to be a refugee. It is imposed by different tyranny governments and people are escaping their own governments.” — Ali Saeed‍

“We wanted to rebuild our lives, that was all… We lost our home, which means the familiarity of daily life. We lost our occupation, which means the confidence that we are of some use in this world. We lost our language, which means the naturalness of reactions, the simplicity of gestures, the unaffected expression of feelings.”
— Hannah Arendt, in an essay

“In a way, the same is true of the immigrants. They have contributed in their way to the flowering of the community, and their individual striving and suffering have remained unknown. Unemployment is not decreased by restricting immigration. For unemployment depends on faulty distribution of work among those capable of work. Immigration increases consumption as much as it does demand on labor. Immigration strengthens not only the internal economy of a sparsely populated country, but also its defensive power.”
Albert Einstein, in a speech at the World’s Fair in New York, 1939

“I don’t support terrorism and never have. As a Sri Lankan that fled war and bombings, my music is the voice of the civilian refugee.”
— M.I.A.

“I chose America as my home because I value freedom and democracy, civil liberties and an open society.”
— George Soros

“I chose America as my home because I value freedom and democracy, civil liberties and an open society.” — George Soros

“There is a significant moral difference between a person who commits a violent crime and a person who tries to cross a border illegally in order to put food on the family table. Such migrants may violate our laws against illicit entry, but if that’s all they do they are trespassers, not criminals. They deserve to have their dignity respected.”
Madeleine Albright

“It’s my job to help people. That’s how we can keep being nice and transfer love to our kids and our grandkids. If someone helps me, I don’t want to be the last one who has been helped.”
Yassin Terou, in an interview

“When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.”
— Elie Wiesel

“We’re not going to give up who we are or our last name because that’s what this country has been built on. It’s a tapestry of different backgrounds, cultures, religions, and that’s the strength to me of what the United States is and what it stands for, freedom above all else.”
— Gloria Estefan, in an interview for USA Today

“There are millions of people, refugees, who have experienced the same conflicts and struggles I did. They have the same potential to defy the odds and achieve great things.”
— Clemantine Wamariya

“There are millions of people, refugees, who have experienced the same conflicts and struggles I did. They have the same potential to defy the odds and achieve great things.” — Clemantine Wamariya

“There’s the nature of being a refugee. We are all defined by our families but by our environments. Things we take for granted. What happens when all of that is gone when your family is gone? the country you were born in does not even exist anymore. You’re barely able to verbally communicate. You’re stripped down to the bare bone of who you are as a person. Your ego is completely irrelevant, doesn’t even exist. And you simply are. Interestingly, it was exactly this which became the foundation of my artistic work later on. This awareness of the basic human condition and the universal expression of it, which really when stripped of the socioeconomic artifice which we are developed in, in its revealing frank form that resonates with us all.”
— Zak Ozmo, in a TED talk

“I realized that by sharing my story, I was indirectly dispelling stereotypes and changing negative attitudes. I set out to create a platform for youth empowerment through storytelling.”
Ahmed Badr, founder of Narratio

“I realized that by sharing my story, I was indirectly dispelling stereotypes and changing negative attitudes. I set out to create a platform for youth empowerment through storytelling.” — Ahmed Badr, founder of Narratio‍

On Ukrainian Refugees

“Millions of people have been displaced either within Ukraine or forced to live as refugees, and alleviating the impact on them is one of our main priorities.”
— Odile Renaud-Basso, President of The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

“Millions of people have been displaced either within Ukraine or forced to live as refugees, and alleviating the impact on them is one of our main priorities.”— Odile Renaud-Basso, President of The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

“Our moral duty is to help Ukrainian refugees by all means possible.”
— Gitanas Nausėda, President of Lithuania

“People of the world… Like you, I am distraught watching Ukraine under attack. We must come together as a force for good!”
Chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen

“We see that the international Red Cross is putting together shelters. We already see that Polish people are already feeding people as they cross the border. We are seeing people in Ukraine taking care of people and doing the best they can under the circumstances.”
Chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen

“Let me also take this opportunity to express my great satisfaction and gratitude for the solidarity that the people of my and many other countries have shown by letting people share their homes, by organizing charitable events, or by donating to organizations active in helping refugees and displaced people.”
— Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg

“As millions of Ukrainians flee their homes seeking safety, we cannot be paralyzed by horror,” he said. “We must live up to the exemplary bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people. We have to support them and those who are hosting them in Poland and elsewhere.”
— Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank

“As millions of Ukrainians flee their homes seeking safety, we cannot be paralyzed by horror,” he said. “We must live up to the exemplary bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people. We have to support them and those who are hosting them in Poland and elsewhere.”— Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank

On Syrian Refugees

“Even if the war ends and we rebuild our homes, there are many things that can never be rebuilt. Syrians were never divided — alas, now they will never be the same.”
— Hamda, in an article

“Even if the war ends and we rebuild our homes, there are many things that can never be rebuilt. Syrians were never divided — alas, now they will never be the same.” — Hamda, in an article

“We are living on the edge of hell. We have been waiting for so long for the day that the world would hear our voice. I hope it is today.”
— Zoher

“We have moral duties to the dispossessed — and should be taking our fair share of Syrian refugees, particularly parentless children.”
— Andrew Adonis, Baron Adonis

“Syria’s neighboring countries cannot and should not carry the cost of caring for refugees on their own. The international community must share the burden with them by providing economic aid, investing in development in those countries, and opening their own borders to desperate Syrian families looking for protection.”
— Khaled Hosseini

“My hunch, for what it’s worth, is that most of us probably find it much, much harder than we realize to really imagine what catastrophe is like. I have a hunch that we all labor under this rather convenient illusion that if we read about the Syrian refugee crisis, we can imagine what it feels like to set off from your home and your life with all your possessions in two bin liners. We all think that we can imagine that and my guess is that none of us have got a clue.”
— Decca Aitkenhead

“My hunch, for what it’s worth, is that most of us probably find it much, much harder than we realize to really imagine what catastrophe is like. I have a hunch that we all labor under this rather convenient illusion that if we read about the Syrian refugee crisis, we can imagine what it feels like to set off from your home and your life with all your possessions in two bin liners. We all think that we can imagine that and my guess is that none of us have got a clue.” — Decca Aitkenhead

More Quotes

“Everywhere inmigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.”
— John F. Kennedy

“Everywhere inmigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.” — John F. Kennedy

“God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does.”
— Martin Luther

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”
— Warsan Shire

“We must continue to honor America’s commitment to keeping families together and not turn our backs on refugees and asylum seekers.”
— Jimmy Gomez

“A refugee is someone who survived and who can create the future.”
— Amela Koluder

“To be called a refugee is the opposite of an insult; it is a badge of strength, courage, and victory.”
— Tennessee Office for Refugees

“I never take for granted how lucky I am to be an American and what a privilege it is to spend each day at a nonprofit dedicated to helping the next generation of girls achieve their dreams. My journey, as the daughter of refugees, shows what refugees and the children of refugees can create for all Americans.”
— Reshma Saujani

“Immigrants deserve empathy and gentleness as the process of leaving your home is difficult. And yet, if asked to do it over, many of us would make that painful decision again.”
— Miguel Bermudez

“Immigrants deserve empathy and gentleness as the process of leaving your home is difficult. And yet, if asked to do it over, many of us would make that painful decision again.” — Miguel Bermudez

“Too often we focus on the opportunities the U.S. provides immigrants in the land of the ‘American Dream,’ and not on how our mercurial national moods lead to small and large policy shifts that radically affect real people.”
— Jessica Goudeau, After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America

“When you come, like we do, from a country with a different culture, finding [in your host country] something that you like, something that you’re passionate about, and being able to practice it, well, it fills them with a sense of peace and calm.”
— Juan Carlos Urquilla, in an article

“In a country where possessions counted for everything, we had no belongings except our stories.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Refugees

“This country was built and continues to survive off the backs of immigrants and refugees.”
— Lauren Jauregui

“We are all migrants through time.”
— Mohsin Hamid, Exit West

“We are all migrants through time.” — Mohsin Hamid, Exit West

Article Details

June 15, 2023 5:44 AM
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