What if San Francisco was suddenly empty? Or New York City? Or both? Imagine over 9 million people fleeing their homes, families and friends, schools, and jobs—leaving two of the United States’ most populous cities nearly empty. Our world would look different—we would notice and want to know what’s going on. We would want to help.

The reality is that all around the world, people are fleeing from violence, persecution, or disaster in search of safety. We often don’t feel these effects because it isn’t happening in our own backyard. It’s in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and most notably Syria, where more than 11 million people have been displaced from their homes. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there’s over 68.5 million people forcibly displaced around the world.

That’s why on World Refugee Day, we shed light on this reality for millions of people globally.

World Refugee Day is held annually on June 20 to generate awareness around the refugee crisis. It aims to build empathy and understanding for refugees, moving people to help and create a world where no one has to decide whether or not to flee their home.

This year’s theme is “Take a Step,” no matter how big or small. The challenge lies in joining together and taking any step in solidarity with refugees.

In alignment with Cisco’s commitment to supporting critical human needs, we have partnered with various organizations that want to make a positive impact for refugees. These groups are doing great work, not just on World Refugee Day, but each and every day.

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization that empowers people to recover from crisis, build better lives, and transform their communities for good. Mercy Corps is on the ground supporting millions of refugees daily.

For World Refugee Day this year, Mercy Corps is highlighting the root causes of displacement, urging people to understand the warning signs — government failures, the spread of inequality, erratic weather — before a refugee crisis begins.

In 2017, Cisco committed US$10 million over five years to help Mercy Corps deliver aid and development assistance faster, better, and to more people around the world. Cisco is providing cash grants as well as donating Cisco technology, expertise, and advisory services.


CARE provides emergency relief to more than 10 million people in more than 20 countries every year. On World Refugee Day, CARE hopes to generate more awareness on the differences each gender experiences during emergencies. CARE will be creating national attention about its global humanitarian work, with an emphasis on the importance of empowering and supporting women and girls who are overcoming extraordinary odds to rebuild shattered lives.


Kiva strives for the over 2.5 million people in underserved communities without access to a bank account to have the financial means to thrive–creating opportunity through lending to poverty.

The organization provides an online, crowdsourced, peer-to-peer lending network for undeserved individuals globally–empowering people to change the trajectory of their lives and their communities. These microloans allow farmers to invest in equipment, families to pay for emergency care, students to pursue higher education, and entrepreneurs to start the businesses of their dreams and create jobs.

Kiva has facilitated US$1.3 billion in loans to 3.1 billion people in 81 countries.

Kiva is making a strong push this World Refugee Day, with the goal to fund US$1 million in loans to refugees, encouraging long-term solutions and more than just emergency aid. As displacement becomes protracted, enabling economic opportunities is the key to securing livelihoods for refugees.

Since partnering in 2015, Cisco has helped Kiva developed new types of financial products, and provided Cisco technology as the foundation to its IT infrastructure.


NetHope unites its network of 57 international humanitarian and development organizations with over 60 technology companies and funding partners around the world to design, fund, implement, adapt, and scale innovative approaches to solve global challenges. On World Refugee Day, NetHope will continue its efforts to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to refugees, with the belief that collaboration and connectivity are key to delivering aid and connecting affected populations with access to critical information.

Currently, NetHope and its partners, including Cisco’s Tactical Operations (TacOps) team, are deployed in Columbia, helping to provide connectivity for the migrants and refugees leaving neighboring Venezuela, as well as for its nonprofit member organizations serving this population. Cisco was a founding supporter of NetHope over 15 years ago, and has continued to support their mission with funding, products, and in-kind support.

We hope you’ll join us in recognizing World Refugee Day, as well as the incredible work these partners are doing to #StepWithRefugees every day.



Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco