Essa Al Mannai, Executive Director of Reach Out to Asia, on seeing refugees for what they are: human.
Imagine a respectable family doctor, or a teacher, or a gardener. Someone who has an ordinary life like many of us. They have breakfast, take their children to school, go to work, eat lunch, and go to sleep in their bed.
Now imagine no longer having your profession, or your kitchen crockery, or a school to which you can take your children…or even a bed. This is the life of a refugee. How many of us ever truly stop to consider how devastating it must be to have your entire life uprooted?
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are over 59 million people who are forcibly displaced due to war or natural disasters and who face this harsh reality every day. In addition to suffering at the hands of injustice in their native countries, refugees can also be robbed of their dignity and humanity in their host , where they are often perceived as a threat and burden. As it stands, the international community’s attitude towards refugees is often gravely misplaced.countries
The growing global humanitarian crisis is beginning to be considered the biggest of our time. On June 20, the world will come together for World Refugee Day, which was initiated by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRA) in 2000 to “commemorate the courage and resilience of refugees” and raise global awareness of the current situation that millions are faced with.
It is important to recognise refugees and see them for what that they are: ordinary people. People who played numerous active roles in their communities and continue to play vital roles in refugee communities.
The lives of refugees are hard for us to comprehend, but they are more than a statistic, more than a crisis. They are people like you and I.
To tackle the current crisis, the international community has to start understanding and empathising with the millions of human lives affected. A major shift in our collective attitudes is needed in order for us to move forward with our efforts in a sustainable and compassionate manner. A major part of the crisis is the global community’s inability to view the issue from a humane point of view, thus resulting in its failure to uphold the basic human rights for millions of refugees.
It is an injustice to humanity to turn a blind eye. This global crisis affects each and every one of us. In order to make any significant impact, it is of paramount importance that the international community recognises its current misplaced attitude and adopts a compassionate mind-set.
It is our individual and collective responsibility to acknowledge the human stories behind the staggering numbers and statistics. Only through compassion and understanding for the volatile situations millions are forced to endure, can we restore their voice and dignity. We must not fail them.