The Refugee crisis: why should you care?

Children at the Kahramanmaras Temporary Accommodation Center in Turkey, children play outside. The camp currently hosts more than 11,000 Syrian refugees, half of them children. It offers schooling for 3,700 children and training opportunities for young people.

Throughout history, the word refugee has been associated with the term refuge, which is a safe shelter that a person resides in search of protection. Today, a refugee is defined as a person who has been forced to leave his home country due to war, violence, or fear of prosecution as a result of certain ideas and beliefs, race, religion, sectarianism, nationality, or political opinion.

The above definition was what I found on the internet. But, what the internet does not mention is that a refugee is someone who struggles every day to find something to eat, to find somewhere safe to stay, to protect his family, to be respected, and more importantly to have the space to develop into the person he could potentially be. A refugee is someone like you and me. A refugee is a person with dreams and goals, a person who wishes to settle with his family and have a peaceful life, a life that is supposed to be nothing but his birthright.

We all know that air, food, shelter, clothing, and security are the basic human needs that everyone deserves to have. However, this is not the case for refugees. Before reaching their country of asylum, refugees go through a number of dire conditions such as thirst, hunger, extreme weather, violence, robbery, abuse, rape, emotional stress, and death. Let alone the drastic conditions at the refugee camps. It may be difficult to imagine life as a refugee but as today (20/06/2020) marks the World Refugee Day, let us take a while and envision life through the eyes of refugees…

Imagine living in a country where you are even denied of your God-given right which is to live in dignity… Imagine living in a country where you are unsure if you are going to make it for the next day ... Imagine waking up each day to the death of a loved one (due to war) … Imagine reaching a point where amid all the ongoing violence, oppression, and war in your country, you feel that there is no better option but to flee to a strange foreign country. Imagine waking up one day to realize that you have to flee your country for factors you never got to choose or control. Imagine having to leave everything behind; your family, your friends, your precious belongings, your dreams, and your memories in the hope of getting a safer life. Well, that is just a minuscule part of what every refugee goes through.

As we all know, the 21st century marked the worst refugee crisis since WWII. As for the year 2018, it was reported that 70 million people have been forced from their homes. Among which, 3.5 million people were asylum seekers, 41.3 million people were internally displaced (fled to places within the country), and 25.9 million were refugees. Among the refugees, the majority come from three countries, Syria (6.7 million), followed by Afghanistan (2.7 million) and South Sudan (2.3 million). Other refugees come from countries such as Myanmar, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, the Democratic republic of Congo, and Eritrea.

Today, most of the world refugees are hosted by developing countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Bangladesh. Whereas some are hosted by European countries. But, this must change because the issue of refugees is not the responsibility of those countries alone but the issue of every country. Hence, every world leader must be called upon to commit to cooperate to settle the issue of refugees.  It is imperative that all societies open their doors to these refugees so that no person is left to lose his life while trying to cross borders. It is time to stop blaming refugees for social and economic problems as this will do no good other than augmenting xenophobia which results in more hatred and discrimination. While many countries perceive refugees as a burden, it is crucial to remember that no one decides to leave his/her country through the riskiest routes and risk his and his family’s life unless they know that the risky routes are safer than their countries. No one chooses to go through humiliation and discrimination unless what they go through in their countries is much worst.

It is also crucial to address the issues of life of refugees after asylum and their psychological condition to ensure the integration of refugees into the new societies. Not only that, but it is the responsibility of every country to ensure the provision of material assistance, security, health care, education and to provide refugees with all the required social services to help preserve their dignity.

To end the refugee crisis, every country must take a stand to end this issue and prioritize not only saving refugees but every human life. Every country and capable person must work hand in hand to protect refugees and enhance their capabilities so that millions of refugees and migrants are not deprived of their basic human rights and the world is not deprived of the potential benefits that refugees can reap.

Why do we need to care about the world’s refugee crisis?  It is because those refugees have never chosen to be born in war-affected countries and like us, they too deserve a better life, a happy one. As human beings, we should do our part to ensure that they have that because what is life if it is not lived for helping others?

Today, we must all realize what has befallen those refugees and all the humiliation and pain they go through. Today, instead of competing on who has the tallest buildings or who has the most destructive weapons, as countries and communities we must compete on who solves the issue of those innocent souls. It is time to destruct the borders of xenophobia and hatred and build bridges of love and unity because in the end, if circumstances changed, a refugee could be anyone, a refugee could be you and me.