Do we really care about the refugees?

I cannot imagine the life of a refugee, to become displaced and no longer able to live safely in my own country as a result of war. To be forced to find another home in a world that doesn’t want me. Those of us who in live in first world nations such as the USA, UK, Canada, Europe and Australia have no concept of the struggles that millions of people around the world endure each and every day. We complain about our first-world problems as if they are big and important when in reality, those in war torn nations are just trying to stay alive and make a home for their families.

We really have no idea and most do not move out of our comfort zone to find out. Some women simply avoid the news as they find it upsetting — how would a poor Syrian woman feel if she knew that we didn’t want to know her plight as we found it too distressing. 

As a consequence of the war in Syria, more than 100,000 lives have been lost and there is approximately 1.6 million Syrian war refugees living in Turkey with another 8 million or more internally displaced within Syria, Lebanon and Jordon living hand-to-mouth in a fragile and dangerous environment.

The old man does not give his name. He does not say anything at all. Lying under a blanket on a thin mattress in the corner of a dark, prefabricated metal container that these days serves as home, he greets a visitor with a baleful stare. Then, slowly, he turns his face to the wall and pulls his red and black checked keffiyeh over his head. His misery, shame, anger and isolation seem complete: he is beyond reach. But his tacit statement is both unmistakable and painfully eloquent. Once, not long ago in Syria, he, like so many others, had a family, a house, job, friends, a neighbourhood, a purpose. He was a man in his own right. Life made sense. Now, inside the confines of the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp a few miles away from the Syrian border in north-west Jordan, he appears as a number, a statistic, his life a shadow of what it was. He seems to be wholly displaced – physically, geographically, socially and psychologically. (The Guardian, 12 March 2014)

With the disaster in Iraq, thanks to the evil of the Islamic State and other areas of the region —something like 12 million people are adrift across the Middle East, homeless and with no future — living day-to-day with little or no hope. This time last year the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide had exceeded 50 million people for the first time since World War II. This year, in its publication Global Trends 2014, the UNHCR is reporting the highest levels of displacement on record — 59.5 million people — displaced because of war, violence and persecution. Over half of the world’s refugees are children and 53 per cent of refugees worldwide originate from just three countries—Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia

We use to see imagines on the news of bombings and death, we don’t anymore and even if we do, most in the west are so desensitised by it all, we really don’t care and as long as it doesn’t come to our door step, we can ignore it. We have other things to worry about — what to cook for dinner — more important things we tell ourselves.

Australia is very good at saying no to refugees — we think they are all evil Muslims coming to take over the nation, so much for Christian charity and love thy neighbour. The reality is that very few ever get here and to put it in perspective, Pakistan hosts almost 1.5 million Afghan refugees and the largest protracted refugee population globally. A poor and trouble nation themselves.

And, it we don’t care about the adults in war, perhaps we should think more about the children, 10,000 children have died during the Syrian conflict and almost 3 million are displaced inside Syria, some in places that are impossible for help to reach easily. What these innocent children have witnessed, words probably couldn’t describe and their futures will be affected as a result.

We need to care much more than we do and whilst we can’t stop the war and violence, we need to be more welcoming to those that arrive on our shores. One way of minimise radicalization within in the Muslim community is not demonizing Muslims as criminals and to show a lot more Christian charity.

We need to stop constantly looking inward at ourselves and how upset we get and perhaps say regular prayers for those 59 million displaced people. We do need to educate our children about how blessed their lives are compared to millions of children who have no safe home. We need to make such our children understand what is happening in the world and include in their education more on refugees and the plight they suffer. Education should not be all rose-coloured to hide the truth. 

And we do need to find ways of helping even if it is in the smallest way perhaps through supporting Unicef or other charitable organisations. Perhaps churches need to be more active in reaching out to new refugees to help. 

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  1. What a convicting post. Thanks for writing this. I can always pray and teach my daughter to pray for these poor people.

    1. It is important to think of these people, who says it won't be us one day or someone we love. I am sure those in Europe never expected to become refugees but millions were after World War 2.
      Have a lovely week.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I am always praying for them and waiting for the word on what I can do. We have participated with VOM in some ways, but it's nothing compared to the needs.

    1. I am glad Laura I am not alone, so many women hide away as if this problem wasn't there and to me that isn't right. Who knows if one day it will affect someone we love. Have a great week :))

  3. War and persecution do horrible things to families and individuals. It is really sad - and governments certainly don't make it easy to help these people, either. I feel great sorrow for parents who can't provide for their children because they are all refugees and can't do anything about it, but I feel even greater sorrow for children who are left fatherless/orphaned and women whose husbands have been killed and they are left alone to raise and care for children. In WWII one of the ways many Jewish & other persecuted peoples survived was through people opening their homes and taking children or families in (at least for a short time, to facilitate their survival). You know what the problem is now? We no longer have the liberty to help people like that! Adoption is highly restricted (especially in Australia) and immigration is worse than it was back then. People will say that war is fought for freedom, but I'm afraid that freedom is NOT necessarily the result of such atrocities - governments tend to shut down even tighter in the face of refugees now, more than ever. This is ANTI-Biblical behaviour. And yet it's almost impossible to do *anything* about it. How this must grieve the Lord. We're often left with nothing to do but pray, and possibly help out monetarily.

    1. I looked at the figures for World War II and it was nothing like it is now and interestingly, most people found homes quite quickly or moved to countries such as Australia with no migration issues, in fact they were welcomed and made to feel at home. I wonder how much radicalization will increase with this number of Muslims homeless and rejected by “Christian” nations. We really are a very poor example of brotherly love.

      I read a book last year about a Iranian man (a doctor) who escaped Iran because he would have been killed and came to Australia illegally (by boat). Once here he was locked up for 2 years but when finally released he went on to continue his medical training and now a leading surgeon in the area of amputees and artificial limbs and helps soldiers who have lost limbs in war. How many other doctors and scientists, teachers etc.. in these camps that could make contribute to humanity by helping others - instead they slowly die in these camps, forgotten by the west.

    2. I suppose part of the reason people found homes quite quickly after WWII is because there was such world-wide loss of life that there were gaps to be filled. These days Western nations don't know what that's even like. The loss of life is very minimal - it barely counts on the figures of each Western nation. And so, because people in general don't know the horror of war and loss, Western nations close their doors and push everyone away. And yet, for these people who have nowhere to go, the situation IS as bad as WWII! It's a really tough one... and very sad.

  4. It is good that you are drawing attention to this, and I think your point about teaching our children about how privileged they are, and seek to make a difference as a family for others much less well off than ourselves is really important. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. I remember my son bringing home a friend who knew nothing about the Jews and the concentration camps and I it made me sad that no one thought it was worth telling her this very sad but very important part of history. The story of the refugees is just as important to tell our children .


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