We Need More Hero Refugees

We Need More Hero Refugees

 

 

In May, France found a hero to contend with the latest marvel release. Footage was released of a man called Madamou Gassama expertly scaling 4 floors of apartment walls in less than 30 seconds to save the life of a child was dangling from a balcony. In true action film fashion Mr Gassama reached the child with seconds to spare; he was met with roars of applause from the crowd waiting with baited breath below.

 

The identity of our superhero was revealed, and he was unmasked as ‘refugee’, the actions of this hero  were applauded and circulated the news outlets; probably to the despair of some of the more right wing press but refugees cant spend all their time making murderous terrorist plots. Mr. Gassama had a meeting with French president Macron who announced that Mr. Gassama will be made a hero. “I told him that in recognition of his heroic act he would have his papers in order as quickly as possible,”[1] Mr. Macron said in a statement on Facebook after meeting with Mr. Gassama at the Élysée Palace in Paris. The Paris firefighters also said they were were “eager to welcome” Mr. Gassama into their ranks.  A lovely rags to riches tale, Mr Gassama received citizenship and a job and no one could argue it was undeserved.

 

Mr Gassama like all refugees had a story which included a perilous journey from a dangerous country risking his life by paying smugglers to take him across the dangerous Mediterranean sea.[2] Mr Gassama will be one of the lucky few granted full citizenship; as in 2017 only five people were granted residence papers for “exceptional talent” or “services rendered to the community”[3] Citizenship will seem like a far out dream to many in a country with increasingly strict immigration laws and where refugees are viewed with suspicion and skepticism.

Refugees all over fighting for citizenship can celebrate; as the secret to achieving citizenship has been revealed. All that’s required is showing your worth through acts of heroism. In order for a nation to see your humanity and value as a human you must contribute via knightly deeds. Some suggestions could be rescuing a cat stuck up a tree, pulling a child out a manhole or pushing an old lady out the way of oncoming traffic. Clearly in order to release yourself from the label of ‘refugee’ and achieve status and worth as ‘citizen’ you need to be ‘eye of the tiger’ style excellence not just any old human. Perhaps the only solution is for refugees to start staging these heroic acts and throwing cats up trees themselves in order to display grand gestures of gallantry.

Macron has been quick to clarify that Gassama is an exception not the rule and has taken a tough approach to immigrants. Parliament had been discussing a draft put forward by the French government which restricts the right of asylum seekers.[4] This has been criticized by human rights groups. It seems it takes exceptional acts of bravery and service for refugees to be considered worthy of a country to live in. We automatically label these people problematic and a nuisance, they have to prove that they are worthy of belonging, to us.

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/world/europe/paris-migrant-hero-spiderman.html

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/world/europe/paris-migrant-hero-spiderman.html

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/world/europe/paris-migrant-hero-spiderman.html

[3][3] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/world/europe/paris-migrant-hero-spiderman.html

 

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/world/europe/paris-migrant-hero-spiderman.htm

Featured Photo by Muhd Asyraaf on Unsplash

IM JANA…  I want to talk about my experience with IDP

IM JANA… I want to talk about my experience with IDP

I’m Jana…
I want to talk about my experience with IDP[s (Internally Displaced People)]

As you know, in 2014 isis destroyed the property of the citizens, so they fled to nearby safe areas when I was working with an international organization.

We visited the Hassan Shami camp, between Mosul and Erbil. I saw citizens who were starving, some of them exhausted, looking for food and medical aid, waiting for visitors to complain about their tragedies and suffering, some of them dropped out of school and left everything with their money and possessions.
The new camps were also built and the dilapidated tents repaired.

As for the entry of IDPs into the city / Erbil was [on] the way. [It was] Slightly difficult for them because of the lack of money to buy as well as hospitals within the city was expensive treatment fees. 
So many cases were exacerbated due to lack of provision of appropriate conditions for treatment.

Most of the tents were drowned by rainwater tents, with food and blankets.
In addition to the insects and diseases prevalent among the children of the camp/

Hasan Shami Camp, May 2017

There were also many burns In the camp because the oil used was not good where it was. 
The tents are burning and the families and children are burning and dying. Some of them are deformed. In most cases, there is no cure. Medical and psychological treatment of these unfortunate cases. 
We can imagine the amount of grief and psychological devastation, the hopes and the future are shattered.

There was some help from neighbors to provide a new tent, after the first [ones] burned but this is not enough for them.

When Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) [started operations] in a hospital in Mosul, [that] provided some job opportunities inside the hospital for displaced people from the eastern part of the city: as nurses, cleaners and guards for the hospital. So I suggest that this assistance [could] be expanded to include places outside Hospitals, in cooperation with the government.

Well, in my opinion, children should be given classes to compensate for their previous school. If not, the result will be an ignorant people and life will be difficult for them.
Good jobs should also be provided to these people to help their families.

The situation of migrants in the Netherlands

The situation of migrants in the Netherlands

Situated in the north west of Europe, the tiny state of the Netherlands is a tough destination for migrants. Considering all the hardship and obstacles that migrants encounter on the road, I found it at times almost miraculous that people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq or Eritrea reach this country at all. Arriving in the Netherlands means first of all that you did manage to leave your country, that you haven’t drowned in the Mediterranean sea, you haven’t been sent back to Turkey, you didn’t get stuck or imprisoned in one of the camps on the ‘Balkan route’, you haven’t been kidnapped, sold or enslaved by human traffickers in the African desert (or you managed to escape from them).

Once in the Netherlands, you have to make you way through the Dutch and European bureaucracy and procedures. The Dutch migration system and migration law distinguishes between regular procedures and asylum procedures. Regular migration is for example labour migration, migration for study, education or family life, if you have (core) family in the Netherlands.  If you have a well-funded fear of persecution, or there is a violent conflict in your home country, you can apply for asylum.

The Dutch asylum system is very well organized. The institutions work relative efficiently but there are also very strict criteria for being granted a refugee status. And with the high influx of migrants in 2014 and 2015 they got stricter. As an asylum seeker have access to free legal aid, interpreters, and to organizations that support you during your procedure and life in the Netherlands. The asylum procedures take between one week and six months, depending on your country of origin and your situation.  Documentation is hereby extremely important. During the procedure you will be provided by housing, healthcare and food.  Once you have a refugee status, you are entitled to housing, healthcare, work or social welfare. There are social programs and organizations that help you with your new life in the Netherlands.

Anyone who considers applying for asylum in a European country should be prepared for the so called Dublin convention.  It is called after a treaty that the European countries made in the city of Dublin, Ireland in 1990. It is supposed to be a common European framework to determine which European country is responsible for your asylum request. This system has been criticized a lot for its dysfunctionality and it is one of the many badly constructed things in the EU, but it is a reality that a lot of asylum seekers have to deal with. It says in short that the EU country responsible for you asylum request is the country where you are first fingerprinted, or the country that gives you a visa. It means, that you don’t really have a free choice in which European country you ask for asylum.  There are some exceptions to this, for example if you have dependent family members in one European state (especially when you are a minor), you can eventually be transferred to your family members.  Your fingerprints are registered in the so called Eurodac system and every European country can access this database.  When you arrive in the Netherlands and you are previously fingerprinted for example in Austria, you will be sent back to Austria where your asylum request will be processed. If you don’t want to be sent to the country where you are fingerprinted, you can appeal.

The Dublin regulation is handled more or less strict in different EU countries. In the Netherlands it is taken quite seriously, with one exception: If you were fingerprinted in Greece, you will not be sent back to Greece.  However, with the EU-Turkey deal this policy could change in the near future.

A downside of the Netherland as a migration country is that the situation for undocumented migrants is very difficult. Once your asylum procedure is rejected and eventual appeals have been unsuccessful, the Dutch government insists that you have to leave the country. If you can’t leave because you have no identification documents or don’t want to leave for other reasons, you have no legal status in the Netherlands at all. That means that you are not entitled for healthcare, housing, work or education and you are forced to live a life in the shadows.  Also are the Dutch known for the frequent and extended detention of undocumented migrants, even if this improved a little after a ruling from the European Court of Justice.

 

Why we should support Asylum Links

Life of a migrant, wherever he or she is, can be extremely challenging, complicated and exhausting. Being on the move means facing uncertainty, danger, trauma, life-threatening situations.  The ones on the move need the support of those who are settled and safe.  One way of support is passing on information in order to make well informed choices for the future. Information that sometimes can make the difference between life and death. Volunteers in and outside Europe have been inspirational in their reaction to the migrant flows in terms of offering support on numerous levels. Fortunately there are organizations like Asylum Links that just do what has to be done in the name of humanity.

I want to end with a poem that says it all, written by the Swedish author and journalist Stig Dagerman in 1953.

Flight sought us out

A bird seeks flight. We did not.
Flight sought us out. That´s why we´re here.
You who weren´t sought out – yet possess your freedom,
help us carry the heavy load of flight!

A shackle seeks a foot. We chose to go forth.
The night was merciful. Now we are here.
You are too many – might say those who are free and safe.
Can there be too many who know what freedom is?

No one seeks destitution. We did not.                                                                                                                                                        It sought us out along the way. Now we are here.
To you who weren´t sought out: We know the weight of freedom!
Help us carry the load of being free!

 

Translated by Lo Dagerman

Refugee Life Style: Waiting to be Legal – Greece, Turkey & European Union

Refugee Life Style: Waiting to be Legal – Greece, Turkey & European Union

In this motionless humankind world I write down the words that have already been written, once again.

According to UNHCR 2016 report, the world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home by armed conflict, generalized violence and persecution.

Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

In Greece 2018, more than 60000 refugees and migrants (mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis) are trapped, more than 15000 have been confined to the islands.

Greece’s legal system on asylum is based on the Geneva Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol, and on European Union (EU) legislation on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

At present, Turkey is the highest host countries worldwide with 3.9 million registered refugees (mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis) where almost 230000 are hosted in camps.

Turkey was one of the original signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention but limits the scope of the Convention’s application to European asylum seekers.

Turkey’s Law on Foreigners and International Protection introduced changes in its asylum system setting many temporary statuses (conditional refugee status, humanitarian residence permit, or temporary protection) for those coming from outside of the Convention’s application scope.

They can be qualifying for international protection and not be subject to return to their home country but  they do not have the ability to integrate into Turkish society.

Facing the massive flux of Syrians in 2015, European Union (EU) established measures to prevent illegal entries and disorganized asylum process.

Balkans borders were closed and two relocation plans for Syrians, Iraqis, and Eritreans were set to transfer 66000 refugees from Greece to other EU members over a period of 2 years.

In order to cope Greece deficiencies in its asylum services, EU set funds and personnel needed for Frontex – European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to help and operate the asylum centers.

The stress on Greece’s obligation to stop onward movements is based on the Dublin Regulations EU rules that require the first country of entry to take responsibility for asylum applications.

The refugee crisis has also jeopardized the functioning of Schengen Area as some EU countries have re-imposed border controls and others are considering reintroducing border controls if Greece fails to control the current migratory flow.

During that first year, less than 200 asylum seekers have been transferred out of Greece under the plan and EU countries have deployed just over half the personnel to operate the centers.

On March 18, 2016, the European Union signed an agreement with Turkey to stem migration and refugee flows to Greece.

The EU-Turkey deal commits Turkey to accept the return of all asylum seekers who travelled through its land in exchange for billions of euros in aid, visa liberalization for Turkish citizens, and revived negotiations for Turkish accession to the EU. The deal also provides for the resettlement of one other Syrian refugee from Turkey for each Syrian returned to Turkey under the deal.

Asylum seekers from other countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, do not even have access to temporary protection status.

At the same time, Greece, supported by the EU, put in place a containmennt policy, confining more than 15000 asylum seekers to the islands, living in crowded and filthy processing centers, in lightweight tents or even sleeping outside on the ground.

In addition, no one, regardless of nationality, who arrived after March 20, when the EU-Turkey deal went into effect, is eligible for relocation under the scheme.

In reality, the EU-Turkey agreement has set a dangerous precedent by putting at risk the very principle of the right to seek refuge.

While Greece remains on the frontline of Europe’s asylum and migration challenges and Turkey is hosting over millions refugees, the acute economic crisis is felt by everybody and conflicts, far from ending, are sharpened increasing the hostile behaviour against refugees.

Despite UNHCR, NGOs and individual efforts to protect refugees and migrants and work on integration, this motionless humankind world is wrong, once again.

 

Bárbara Orozco Díaz / 24 May 2018

 

 

on the island of Lesvos…

on the island of Lesvos…

Lesvos refugees crisis lesvos refugees crisis..

These words have been clinging in my head since 2015 but as in many heads, they were just words.. Until i came to the island in December last year to meet many lovely people with tortured destinies waiting for one thing – the black stamp.

The road to Lesvos for many is a torture itself. Being locked up in a small yard in turkey with many other for four days without food or a toilet is one example of how terrible it can be before getting on a dingy boat- a rubber thingy that travels 15 kilometers of the sea separating turkey from Europe. Turkish Coast Guard (TCG) is paid by European union to patrol its waters and if a dingy is found, they get sent back to turkey. Only in April of this year TCG /Turkish police have stopped 90 boats with 3602 people, making it 10029 people since the beginning of the year.

Once on an island, everybody gets sent to the Moria camp, a refugee camp with over 6000 people, living in inhumane conditions. Poor sanitary conditions, families with children sleeping in tents, cold showers in cold winters, no laundry.. No sufficient medical and psychological support.. Photography there is prohibited: no wonder those in charge don’t want the world and European tax payers to see it.

Refugees receive free “food” but lining up could take up to two hours and if you are late, then you are left without any food. And what’d be worth waiting for so long? A croissant and a bottle of water for breakfast and a plain rice with a teaspoon of unidentifiable sauce for lunch or dinner.

Besides, every single adult or head of the family receives 90 Euros per month and 50 for other family members. Bus out of the camp costs 1,10 and food, coffee and everything else is more expensive than in many European cities (it’s an island). Even out of these 90 euros, according to some refugees and volunteers not all the sum always arrives to the pockets of its receivers. Often, big NGOs prove themselves corrupt and inefficient, while small NGOs make lives of these people bearable while they are waiting for that one thing, the black stamp. The black stamp will allow them to leave Lesvos and start a new life as a refugee with asylum status, few of them moving on further in Europe to reunite with their families, most staying in Greece, their new home…

 

As human beings, we should never forget 3rd October 2013

As human beings, we should never forget 3rd October 2013

Since a very young age I remember empathising with sufferers. Suffering was something eerily fascinating to me, an expression of the soul, the mind and the body that manifests differently according to what you are suffering from. Exploring suffering was my way, as a youngster, to get closer to one’s vulnerability.
3rd October 2013 was the day when suffering tasted extremely bitter, and tasted like unfairness, death and many teardrops.
3rd October 2013 was the day when circa 366 refugees and asylum seekers died trying to reach the costs of Southern Italy. It was defined as one of the most terrible tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea after the Second World War. 155 people survived (41 of them were minors), 366 died and 20 were never found.
This tragedy hit me like a fist punch in my stomach. I was devastated and confused. But mostly, I could have seen my father or even myself among those people, as my family crossed the same Sea the same way those people did.

The sunken shipwreck that transported 386 migrants

Being a refugee is not a choice. Dying away from home, in a sea is not a choice. Putting unaccompanied minors on fragile boat is not a choice. And we must understand this, the same way we should try to understand why our indifference, fear of even xenophobia of refugees (especially if hosted in our countries) is dissociating us from the gravity of this humanitarian crisis. How, as human beings, have we come to turn our backs to this:

Red roses, teddy bears and flowers to commemorate refugees and asylum seekers who lost their lives during 3rd October 2013

And this

Unknown body of migrant floating in the sea

Suffering is something we all feel deeply, and makes us do things we never thought possible from us. Images like these ones have the power to make us reflect on how we perceive the suffering that we see through a television screen, or read in a newspaper. We do feel moved, but we decide to move on and concentrate on other things. And outside the comfort of our lives, 3rd October 2013 happens every day. We render this humanitarian disaster a mere daily news that has us accustomed to feel sadness, but not too much. Anger, but not too much. Guilt, but not too much.
3rd October 2013 is a date recognized solely by the Italian government. However, I believe that such tragedy (and perhaps the lessons learned from it) should reach a wider public. And as mentioned before, the above pictures show us images that are constantly displayed on news channels, and is this constancy that perhaps strips such pictures from their true meanings:
Don’t turn your back to suffering, but act on it.

 

Roki Seydi

The unique experience of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers within the UK

The unique experience of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers within the UK

Asylum Links offers refugees and asylum seekers the accessibility to documents and contacts that assist them in establishing the rights that are available to them in the country they are trying to relocate to. Having fled a country that has stripped these rights from them, Asylum Links facilitates the necessary information and support to help refugees, migrants and asylum seekers to reconfigure their lives in a period of turmoil and uncertainty.

Women and minors have been recognised as being especially threatened by their situation as refugees, however another unique situation that has not been quite as widely acknowledged is that of LGBTQ refugees. LGBTQ people may have been forced out of their country due to their experience surrounding their sexual orientation, or otherwise due to political conflict.

Asylum seekers in the UK are at risk of isolation due to the weighted pressure of seeking security without the prejudice they are conditioned to be fearful of.  Their previous circumstances may have shaped a wariness or uncertainty within them due to the riskiness of being open about their identity within their home territory. If it is difficult to trust people with the knowledge of your identity within the social environment of your origins, how readily can you trust people in a new and unfamiliar backdrop. Implications may arise for LGBTQ people if their gender identity or sexual orientation was to be found out by people from within their home communities. This shows the lasting impact of the LGBTQ refugee experience, even once they have arrived in Scotland. This notably affects mental health and also the confidence to approach the appropriate support services. They may struggle in expressing themselves emotionally, but lack of knowledge in regards to language specific to LGBTQ identity may also create a barrier when seeking advice.

The intersectionality of LGBTQ experiences requires expert support in that every case is unique within the larger experience of being a refugee. This is where Asylum Links provides a network of helpful sources to whatever range of support is solicited. In the past, the Scottish Asylum system has not been sufficient in thoroughly protecting LGBTQ people. Often, when making asylum claims, the system dismissed the legitimacy of their experience by purporting that security could be available to them within their home country if they were to maintain their gender identity or sexual orientation as private. Although, it is no longer viable to reject asylum claims for this reason, LGBTQ refugees are still particularly vulnerable in their journey. LGBTQ people constantly face misrepresentation, with organisations and authorities lacking in understanding of the intersectionality of their experiences in relation to their gender identity and sexual orientation. Asylum seekers have been known to have claims rejected under premise they cannot ‘prove’ their sexuality.  Detention centres are also known for having a history of violence and abuse towards LGBTQ people as there is not sufficient support or refuge from these antagonistic behaviours. This emphasises the length of the journey and also the necessity for an immediate support system when refugees arrive in the UK. It is a basic human right to live freely under whatever gender identity or sexual orientation and this struggle to maintain this human right without discrimination can still be overlooked.

These are examples of how LGBTQ people have a lonely and frustrating experience as refugees. Therefore, carefully tailored advice is at the crux of improving this difficult passage, helping alleviate a situation that is both intimidating and overwhelming.

 

by Charlotte Thornton

Photo by Harry Quan on Unsplash

Are refugees to blame?

Are refugees to blame?

Sometimes the images of horror and destruction we see on the news can be so overwhelming that it leaves us with a sense of helpless. The refugee crisis seems far too complex, our news screens are filled with grim images of dead kids, cities covered in rubble, men in balaclavas holding massive guns.

In some sense it can be comforting to distance these individuals from ourselves, alienate, create a ‘them and us’ dichotomy which allows us to blame the individuals for their situation rather than feel empathy. I saw this recently in the comments section of a news article concerning refugees ; many attested that the people that live in places such as Syria should simply ‘stand up and fight for their country’ and ‘defend their territory. I’m sure Barry from Wandsworth would grab all his kitchen utensils and rush to the front door for queen and country if ISIS were hammering at his door. Many suggested that somehow the refugees were faking poverty because they dared to own an android phone. I know that if I had to rush from my home for my safety and make a perilous journey, one of the first things I would grab is my phone. Not so I could snapchat my journey across Europe in the back of a lorry or see my tinder matches in France but to have some connection with family and friends; to let others know I am safe and to have necessary contacts that could help me. We have to remember their entire identity is not ‘refugee’ and that as soon as you become a refugee its not like a reverse Cinderella where a godmother comes along and transforms your clothes into rags and your hair into matted strands, they are normal people.

In 2016 the news confronted us with the startling image of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi washed up on the beach, spat out by the waves, face down. Highlighting the desperation of the people, the horrors a mother must be running from to put her own toddler in a boat, knowing he may not survive the trip. The headlines very quickly changed from accusations of hordes of refugees swarming European countries, bleeding the benefits system dry, planning terrorist plots and raping young women to outcries of sympathy and support. As if it was an epiphany that these refugees were dying in vast numbers attempting to escape terrorist groups and war zones. As if we did not know that ISIS could be a particularly cruel bunch. The right to asylum is an inalienable right documented in the UN. Everyone has the right to flee a country from persecution, in fact 19 million children flee their own country every year, sadly 70% do not reach their destination.[1] I witnessed a glimpse of some of the atrocities on a small visit to the Calais refugee camp where many refugees stayed in the hopes of eventually reaching the UK via the port. Many staying up all night attempting every single evening to find some way to get to the UK. Many of the men I met had been doctors, lawyers, teachers in their countries but had been stripped of everything in the move here, including their identities. Finding borders closed, police that assault and tear gas you and hospitals refusing to treat you. Forced to be stripped of your humanity and treated like a parasite for the crime of wanting to be safe in a country.

 

 

Why Are The Refugees There?

The situation in Calais is part of a mass migration crisis caused mostly by displaced people from war torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and North Africa. Many are staying in Calais in the hope of reaching the UK because of its proximity to the port. [2]The camp was officially demolished in October 2016 but since then has began to build up again. The crisis was not solved and the refugees merely shifted to other locations across northern France[3]  Many are hidden in small camps, fields, garages or derelict buildings. Others are at an official camp near Dunkirk at Grande-Synthe.[4] Many want to get to the UK because they dream of a better life, they dream of jobs, opportunities, security and many have family already there.

 

What Can You Do to Help

There are some fantastic charities that I discovered in my research. Some of these I have previous experience through volunteering or fundraising for.

Calais Action

Calais action provides mobile internet and calls to refugees providing a lifeline to recipients. For many accompanied children this is the only safety net they have and for many this is the only way they can contact their families and let them know they are safe. All you need to do is text CALA85 and the amount you want to donate to 70070.

Refugee Community Kitchen

Refugee community kitchen provides nourishment to people in need. You can email to volunteer with the kitchen or you can donate money.

Care4Calais

Care4calais helps with distribution of essential products such as toiletries or clothes. Sometimes all refugees arrive with is the shirts off their backs. They are currently doing Packs4Calais where you can collect essential items together for refugees into a pack and drop them off at a collection centre where they will be sent to Calais. You can volunteer with Care4Calais in Calais, or you can help with collecting and sorting items to be sent from the UK to Calais. You can also donate funds or buy essential products.

Calais People to People Solidarity

This is a group where you can help organise aid from the UK to those stranded in Calais. You can find your local group on the facebook page.

[1]http://www.humanrights.com/what-are-human-rights/videos/right-to-asylum.html

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29074736

[3] http://www.humanrights.com/what-are-human-rights/videos/right-to-asylum.html

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/05/refugees-northern-france-dunkirk-calais-camp-demolished

Life in a minefield

Life in a minefield

This is my first ever article. I am not a writer/blogger. I maintain a diary for things such as my to-do list and reminders, my goals, scribbling and sometimes, venting. It was last week that I found purpose to write in it.

Like any ordinary day, while scrolling on facebook, a video of a Syrian kid weeping about being bombed by an airplane caught my notice. I had already heard a lot about Syria, Palestine, Israel, bombings,chlorine-attacks but it all seemed so confusing. I was completely oblivious as to what the real matter was, where did all of this start and why. I would watch Focus on Africa on BBC World News and wonder, once the deathly route from Nigeria to Europe was crossed, their hardships were over forever.

I was curious to know what was on, dismissed the current state of affairs as too complicated and had been stalling reading about it but realised it was high time. I began watching more videos of these kids and one thing was pretty evident, they were all so mature. They knew all of the politics that was on, had witnessed countless deaths of the ones closest to them, friends they would play with, right before their eyes, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they were wiser than me.

At an age where my parents would take me to our terrace and whenever a plane passed by I excitedly bid it goodbye, these kids are horrified just by the sound of an approaching airplane. One day there is greenery all around your home, a lovely bed, godlike parents, access to education, so many ambitions and the next day you wake up to rubble, shattered dreams and you may have just been orphaned. Words can’t describe their misery, but could things be worse ?

Yes. You could expect a “safer” country to offer you shelter, to rekindle your faith in life. You hope for a better tomorrow and set off on the hardest journey ever, your last hope for survival. After being deceived by various sorts of smugglers on the last few pennies you had, you have made it to the city you placed all your bets on. Now you register into one of the camps, and start to fend for yourself and your babies. No one is least bothered of how exhausted and distraught you are. You are directed towards a building that is full of people like you but no more space left in there for you. Finally you are sharing a room with 3–4 other alike families or possibly living in a tent under horrible weather conditions, without a blanket or any proper sanitary. If you’re a woman, you are bound to being assaulted sexually. You have been ripped off of your everything and now it is your dignity that is being encroached upon.

Finally you have reached a point where you wish you were bombed rather than escaping your beloved country. Yes. It was now that I realised, nothing like being in the place where you grew up. We fail to acknowledge how lucky we are to have a place we call home, such pampering parents, an education, a future to look forward to. My heartfelt gratitude to the soldiers on our borders!

These refugees were happy people like you and me. They would never leave their beautiful country. Before the uprising in 2011, Syria was in magnificent shape and today even her tiniest leaf has no life.

Homs,Syria – Before and After <http://globalinfonews.com/2015/07/25/photos-of-syria-before-and-after-civil-war-march-2011/>

Aerial view of devastated Homs . Syria’s 3rd largest city, capital of the revolution.

All these migrants wish to go back someday, they hope things will get better and their country will flourish again but everyone is bothered about their own nation. We are all bound by man-made borders for our “safety”. No one pays heed anymore to this news because we have problems of our own or because we are not capable enough to digest so much suffering or maybe because there is nothing we can really do about it or it can even make things messier or for the mere reason that a much talked about gadget’s release date is more ‘relevant’ news. So does that mean we turn a deaf ear to it all and leave them to their fate ? One thing that deeply bothers me is that if we can’t help end this, why aid it. If we cannot open our country doors to shelter them, set up more camps that are livable, why deploy warships and prolong the bloodshed. Isn’t the damage done enough yet? Humanity remains just another word in the dictionary.

It is us because of whom these kids will never know the meaning of that word. We aren’t capable enough of showing them its power. In some way we are all contributing to them growing up with all this hatred. But remember! It’s just another day, for you and me, in paradise!

-Unnati Bellare

 

Photo by aladdin hammami on Unsplash

<h4><strong>In pursuit of safety: Homs (Syria) to Germany</strong></h4>

In pursuit of safety: Homs (Syria) to Germany

Young Syrian boy demonstrates with a poster that says “We demand the rescue of civilians in Deir ez-Zor from the brutal attacks on them”.Young boy lies on the floor in safe sunshine of Germany along with Syrian Flag, but with a purpose. After passing through dangerous journeys and fleeing war-torn areas of Syria, he is determined to speak for his human rights. Living in the German city of Friedrichshafen, he along with other young people demonstrated on streets in solidarity with their country. They raised voice against injustice, killing and bombings they have seen in Syrian regime. They wanted to tell German people that they left their beloved homeland because of the war.</entry-content p>

He belongs to city of Homs, Syria and was displaced because of the regime and daily killings and shelling in his area. He said he doesn’t want anything but a safe place to live. He also aspires to learn more and complete his academic career, which he was deprived of when he was in Syria. He has participated in this protest because he got approval from local German police. He said his and his brother’s sincere prayers are for Germany which gave them safe heaven to live. He is thankful to German government to help them but he also wants them to show empathy. He saw some demonstrations against refugees that he thinks is wrong.

He is a peaceful person he believes and would do nothing to disrupt the lives of other people in Germany. He wants international community to give attention to this issue and to aid refugees. He wants them to help the people who are victims of war is Syria and are getting killed every now and then. And these talks should not be limited to just talk, actions must be taken immediately to stop the war and solve issues mutually.

Furthermore, he shows his gratitude and determination by saying that he wants to be an active and productive member of German society and sometimes he misses his life in Syria. His dream is to live in a safe place where he can learn and study. That place he believes is Germany because it is the only country that accepted him after all the other countries abandoned him.

The voice of our client is shared by Aqsa Khalid, a volunteer Coordinator at Asylum Links EU. She holds a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work.

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