World Refugee Day

What do you know about refugees?

Nowadays when the world 'refugee' is mentioned, we have a certain perception, a perception that does not relate to the atrocities many refugees face across the world. Many view refugees to be 'sucking our resources' not realising or understanding their plight.

In recent years, the media has helped public perception of refugees to be deemed as 'negative'. Vast majority of Britons think Britain should "not take any more asylum seekers". The EU Monitoring Centre declared UK as "one of the most refugee-phobic countries in the EU". As a consequence of public perception immigration laws in the UK and many industrialised nation have tightened.

World Refugee Day

20th June marks the 10th anniversary of the World Refugee Day and the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 55/76 and decided that, from 2001, 20th June will celebrate World Refugee Day. The purpose of World Refugee Day is to raise awareness of the plight of refugees throughout the world, whilst, celebrating their resilience and courage.

 

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

According to UNHCR

Refugee population

An estimated 150 countries have acceded to the Convention of Refugees, promising to protect refugees and exempt them from deportation.

Recent world events including the blockade of Gaza, the war in Afghanistan and the civil war in Sri Lanka have seen the number of refugees rise considerably.

These figures are only the registered refugees; excluding internally displaced people, stateless people and asylum seekers.

Common causes of refugees:

  • War
  • Ethnic and religious violence
  • Political instability
  • Environmental disasters

Majority of the refugee population are in developing countries, with half in Asia and 20 percent in Africa.

Somalian Refugees

Since 1991, Somalia has been involved in an on-going civil war, which has forced Somalis to flee looking for safety. Dadaab, Kenya is facing an influx of refugees fleeing from Somalia. Dadaab is the third largest city in Kenya with only refugees residing there, it was declared as "the biggest refugee camp in the world". The capacity for refugee camps in Dadaab is 90,000 but current numbers of refugees are thought to be 300,000, a figure expected to rise to 450,000. Joke van Peteghem of the MSF said, "The camps are completely full. People are arriving and they do not find any space any more, meaning they don't have access to water and other facilities". This is creating problems for organisations such as MSF and UNHCR in providing sufficient services to refugees.

Living conditions in Dadaab is perilous, large percentage of families living in open space are prone to wild animal attacks. Children are malnourished; it takes roughly two weeks for new arrivals to receive a first ration of food, leaving them to fend for themselves. Talks for an extension of the camps between Kenyan government and the UN are still underway. However, the real solution would be for the international community to step in to try to achieve some sort of political stability in Somalia allowing Somali refugees to return home.

Refugees flee looking for safety, not realising further hardship awaits them in the host nation. The constant disrespect refugee's face today is beyond my comprehension. As an industrialised nation, we forget how fortunate we are to have a high living standard that other people only dream of, and yet we reject others who have gone through atrocities to build a new life for themselves. Many refugees become refugees because 'our' government has declared war with their government such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Therefore, it seems only fair that we allow refugees in our country where they can be safe. It is not everyone that rejects refugees but the fact that there is a growing population that rejects refugees only hinders their chance to build a life.

It is our duty to help other human beings and yet we think of number one first. World refugee day should be celebrated with pride and respect.

Images from Amnesty, PRX and Houstin Immigration Attorneys.

Comments

Zeenat Islam

Really informative factsheet format and great Somalia focus :))

19 June 2011 delete
Rahima Begum

Thanks for posting Rothna, often these terms are thrown around without any term, so its great to finally have a breakdown. Focus on somalia was also insightful

19 June 2011 delete
Emmanuael Ade

It was a very interesting article, learnt something new. Keep it up.

24 June 2011 delete