Happy World Refugee Day: Rethink how Refugees are Treated
20 June is the 10th International Refugee Day, marking 60 years of refugee protection under the Geneva Convention.
Everyday thousands of people including vulnerable people like women and children flee their homes to find safety in another host community or country as refugees.
Reflecting on this year’s World Refugee Day, I could say that 2011 could witness a forced migration surge following the tumultuous situations in the Arab world as people quest for human development and “freedom” from dictatorship and long ruling governments. In search for a safe place, some of these forced migrants have embarked on precarious journeys across deserts and high seas – where some thousands of precious lives could be feared dead. Climate Change induced migration is also of no exception in increasing the number of environmentally forced migrants.
Reception of such forced migrants has been very poor in most European countries as countries like Italy and France have continued to deny the entry of forced migrants into their countries. With tensions between Italy and France on the internal mobility of such migrants, the European Commission is being forced to reconsider the courtesies under the Schengen passport-free travel accord.
From liberal standpoint, I think the European States involved in the war in Libya for instance have failed to live up to reality. Why is France for instance shirking its obligations to protect the victims of the war that it has supported through military intervention? To date no concrete action plan has been developed by the EU or NATO to support refugees who have been the victims of the crises. NATO’s failure to respond to a migrant boat that called for help also led to the death of some 600 migrants who sunk off the coast of Libya,
My first working experience with refugees began in the year 2006, when I was working with the One World Youth Project as a Project Ambassador and had to mentor refugee based projects at the Budumburm Refugee Camp which ended with an experiential Africa youth summit, that was organized in 2008 with and for the refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone. Probably that spurred my interest in migration issues after learning at first hand the challenges, courage and dreams of refugees.
Interestingly among one of the projects – Buduburam Community Capacity Development Initiative (BcomCDI) – that I worked with whilst at the United Nations Development Programme office in Ghana under the EC/UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative was also a refugee focused project. This 18-month project was meant to provide entrepreneurial-driven, sustainable economic livelihood empowerment through developing ICT skills and managerial capacity buiding of existing entrepreneurial businesses. The main beneficiaries of the project included Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees, returnees as well as Ghanaian host populations in and around the Buduburam Refugee Settlement Camp.
During a monitoring visit to the Refugee camp, I learnt a lot on how refugees can contribute to economic development of their host communities if they are offered a chance and the needed assistance. Visit my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150640511465541.694290.801605540 ) to see some interesting pictures from my field visit.
On World Refugee Day, I would like to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. Watching Sahar in a video touched me so much to do more than one thing for forced migrants. For many migrants who continue to remain weakened by their harrowing experience Eugenia remains an inspiration for you.
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