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.
Photos from: http://theweek.com/captured/449516/life-inside-syrian-refugee-camps