Friday, 1 July 2016
Photos: Refugees Are Humans Too By: Jahna Paige
noun: refugee; plural noun: refugees
a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
According to the UNHCR, 1 in every 113 people is a refugee. To put it in perspective, “on average 24 people worldwide were displaced from their homes every minute of every day during 2015”. With such a high figure, we should all have encountered a refugee or two by now. A neighbor, the clerk at your favorite store, the engineer, your son’s best friend. Better yet, we should all know how to respond and respect them to make them feel welcome. Unfortunately, we don’t.
2015 saw an increase in war and conflict. Especially in Darfur, Sudan where intense violence escalated, forcing over 233,000 Darfuris to flee. Sadly, Darfuris are continuing to meet the same fate even in 2016, with the majority fleeing to Chad, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, and the U.S.
Despite searching for peace and support to help rebuild their lives, Darfuri refugees are welcomed with countless obstacles. As they leave their homeland, they are faced with cultural, language, and economic barriers. Often coupled with mental and physical trauma, it is undeniable difficult for Darfuri refugees to lead normal lives. In addition, certain countries exacerbate the challenges by placing harsh laws to restrict refugees from obtaining any employment or education. (Jordan, we’re looking at you)! Or, if refugees are allowed employment and other services, they must pass tests and exams that purposely make it difficult for them to receive the full benefits of a citizen.
Furthermore, many are targeted after crossing the border, as in the case of the Darfuris in Egypt. Leaked reports state that Sudanese and Egyptian officials agreed to an unusual deal: if Egypt responds to the Sudanese political dissidents, Sudan will destroy the Brotherhood. In this respect, Darfuri refugees do not have the freedom of speech in their own country AND the country where they are taking refuge.
While refugee agencies such as the UNHCR and the IOM, as well as Western governments attempt to address the refugee crisis, they have been ineffective due to the lengthy and exhausting process.
There have been many cases where Darfuri refugees have protested outside these agencies’ buildings as a last resort. Promised that their application would be processed in a few months, only to be waiting 15+ months, while being discriminated against. Or worse, to be detained, arrested, tortured and sent back to Sudan. As one Darfuri refugee put it, “organizations here have no humanity.”
So while “we stand together #with refugees”, let us also take action. We call on you to demand that refugee agencies and your governments assist and protect refugees during their process, while treating them with respect. Because at the end of the day, refugees are humans too.