By Karyn Stone
 
On June 20, World Refugee Day, the Canadian Red Cross launched its new interactive, online resource, Forced to Fight. Designed for teachers and students between 13-18 years old, Forced to Fight helps explain International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and humanitarian issues by allowing the user to experience what it is like for young people living in situations of armed conflict around the world.
 
The world is now experiencing the highest level of forced migration ever recorded, with one person forcibly displaced every two seconds.Millions of children face the devastating effects of war, and many are forced to leave their homes due to conflict and other situations of violence. The world is now experiencing the highest level of forced migration ever recorded, with one person forcibly displaced every two seconds. Young people can be especially vulnerable, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that over half of the 25.4 million refugees in the world today are children.
 
Forced to Fight provides an interactive learning opportunity for students in Canada to follow the journeys of Nora (17), Tam (13), and Ana (15)—all affected by conflict-related displacement. The resource was developed as part of the ongoing work of the Canadian Red Cross to protect vulnerable people affected by armed conflict by ensuring respect for IHL. It aims to educate young Canadians about the importance of international humanitarian law and encourage dialogue on issues such as refugees and forced migration.
 
IHL has provisions to protect civilians and prevent displacement; it also provides protections for those already displaced. However, these rules are not always respected, as students will discover as they help Nora, Tam, and Ana navigate the difficult choices children face during armed conflict. Their journeys reflect the real and urgent needs of children who are forced to fight, for their dignity, their lives, and a place to call home.
 
World Refugee Day is observed annually on June 20 to draw attention to the situation of refugees around the world. It is also a day to commemorate the courageousness and resilience of the millions of refugees forced to leave their homes.