June 20, 2010

Children's Day - June 20th World Refugee Day 2010


Imagine you are thrown out of your home, cut of from your family, friends, community and forced to to leave your country, leave behind all that is familiar...
And that while bombs and guns might go off around you.
Knowing that your faith, your beliefs are considered unacceptable and you could be thrown in jail or killed for expressing them.
Knowing your race, nationality are reasons to be hated.
Being denied most basic rights, not existing as a citizen, not being allowed to be part of social or political group of your choice.
Not having access to education.
Living in fear.
And after much struggle if you are lucky enough to survive long enough to get to another country you will be at best tolerated.
Reality is that you will be discriminated against (for the color of your skin, for your religion), you will not be recognized as a citizen, not have easy access to education, you might have your basic needs taken care of but your needs for acceptance and connection will not. 
Not knowing the language, the customs, the laws.
Not fitting in.
With little hope to return home.
Being denied the right to belong.
Living in fear and being looked at with fear and even anger.
Now imagine yourself going through all this at an age when main concern should be playing.

 Photos are owned by UNHCR and can be found on the UN Refugees Agency's website

Article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention as amended by the 1967 Protocol provides the definition of a refugee:
A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

10.5 million refugees at the end of 2009

34.4 million people of concern of UNHCR including (apart from the refugees) 14.4 million internally displaced people, 2 million returnees, 6.6 million stateless people and more than 800,000 asylum seekers

  Photos are owned by UNHCR and can be found on the UN Refugees Agency's website

But beyond the facts and figures there are lives crushed by violence.
Behind numbers there are individuals.
  The emotional and physical scars they bare are deep.

Photos are owned by UNHCR and can be found on the UN Refugees Agency's website
Children are at the heart of the issue.
They are the the most vulnerable.
Out of the total number of people of concern to the UNHCR half of them are children.
War is the main cause behind children becoming refugees, as well as the number one cause of death, injury and loosing parents for children.
Child soldiers is a growing practice according to international agencies.
Children are often subjected to abuse - rape, sexual slavery, child labor.
They arriving unaccompanied in different countries all over the world are not treated with necessary care. Many don't have access to legal advice - and a large number of them are at an age they do not understand their legal situation nor do they understand the legal procedures they are subject of.
The traumas they experience will be carried for life.
We should be more vocal in promoting and supporting The Convention on Children's Rights .


"We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism."
Rigoberta Menchu
Guatemala Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1992




For more information on refugees and how you can help

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

UN Refugee Agency on Twitter

UN Refugee Agency on Facebook

US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

Refworld

European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)

Famous refugees


3 comments:

Cassarah said...

"34.4 million people of concern of UNHCR including (apart from the refugees) 14.4 million internally displaced people "

-this shows the proportion of the problem for which mankind finally has to find a solution.
As you said behind this huge number are INDIVIDUALS.

NO WAR - NOWHERE is the solution and we have to go on to stand up to all the warlords worldwide.
Remember " We are not afraid...we walk hand in hand!"

Thank you so much for this important post.

mike1909 said...

sad thing is that in spite of all efforts so far the number of refugees and all the other categories of concern to UNHCR is not dropping

especially when going over the numbers of children ending up as refugees or displaced - often with no family support

Sofia Trikili said...

We can't let this be...

Post a Comment