The Migrant Crisis, An Ongoing Humanitarian Struggle
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch
The migrant crisis has been an ongoing humanitarian crisis for over 2 years, from the beginning of 2015 when acknowledgement was given to the mass number of civilians fleeing from war torn countries. Yet in 2017, the crisis is getting worse and the death toll keeps on rising.
This was a true story for Alan Kurdi, the small boy who died in the Mediterranean Sea, whose tiny lifeless body washed up on a beach. You probably saw his picture in your newspaper or online. He was a refugee. He was also only 3 years old. Imagine seeing your child’s dead body on the front page of every newspaper.
A refugee is someone who has fled their country due to war, risk to their life or because they are being persecuted based on factors like religion, race, gender. These people are leaving behind their homes, their culture, their lives, for somewhere they’ve never even visited. All they know is that they have a chance of survival there.
Much of the news is biased against these unfortunate souls, spouting purely negative propaganda. The Daily Mail at the start of the crisis for example- they both demonise and exploit these people. One minute they are bombarding us with emotive sob stories, the next inciting hate. None of this is helpful. What we need is an accurate representation of the truth about what refugees endure.
In our cosy homes and comfortable beds, we have no concept of what refugees are suffering on a day to day basis. Most people are criminally uneducated about refugees. Many are too blinded by prejudice or propaganda to acknowledge that refugees are striving to rebuild their entire lives. They can’t “go back to their own country” – as you frequently hear far right idiots say. If they could, they wouldn’t be here in the first place! Many embark on their journey with no money, no possessions and only hope that someone somewhere will see them not as a problem but as fellow human beings in desperate need of help.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, commented, “Refugees are made scapegoats for any number of problems from terrorism to economic hardship and perceived threats to their host communities’ way of life. But we need to remember that the primary threat is not from refugees, but to them.”
Populism can be considered for some of the blame for the lack of empathy among society towards migrants. It’s a trend emerging within the political world and there is no denying that it exists. If we take countries such as France, the Netherlands, and Indonesia, we can see that populism is emerging in the world and seeping everywhere. Right wing populism is being used to push politician’s agendas on how ‘our nation’ should be and what ‘our people’ look, act, and think like. Many migrants have been met with hostility and are left feeling unwelcome.
We can turn this around and help migrants in many ways. You can donate through various charities such as UNICEF, Red Cross, whatever takes your fancy. Donating supplies and protesting are other ideas which can benefit migrants immensely. Most of us reading this have a roof over our heads. We have food, clothes, the latest technology. These migrants are facing violence, hunger and cold temperatures on a daily basis. People are being targeted, sexually assaulted and trafficked while our governments are turning away.
Now don’t get me wrong; many countries are doing something. Turkey and Pakistan just to mention a couple. Turkey has over 1.6 million refugees, while Pakistan took in 1.5 million. However, in the wider scope, the World Economic Forum state that over 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations by the end of 2014. You can imagine the number this has most likely risen by 2017.
Not everyone agrees with taking in migrants of course, but to those who do, remember. These are humans, just like me and you. It is up to people like us to educate the ignorant, and to make a difference in these people’s lives.
The majority of migrants are running away and seeking protection in our countries for a reason – protection from danger and famine in war torn countries. Remember Atticus Finches’ quote – we will never understand a person until we can experience what they have.