Getting to know the world’s refugees

There’s really no way of getting around it, we’re living in a war torn world, whether or not any individual feels particularly effected by the atrocities committed maybe halfway around the world (although, realistically, atrocities aren’t hard to find right around the corner). Lucky and far away we may be, there are people who’s whole world revolves around dealing with how they are effected by conflict, be it through death, endangerment, or displacement.

According to the United Nations, eight people leave their homes every day to escape the danger. In order to move forward with the discussion of what they face, and how to help, lets first understand how to categorize these groups of people:

First, we have your regular refugee: someone who flees their country, because of any flavor of persecution, or to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters. Returnees are the refugees who have since returned to their home lands, although still continue to need aid and support.

Before someone is officially determined a refugee, they are considered an ‘asylum seeker’.

An IDP, Internally displaced person, is someone who is a refugee and has moved out of their native region but hasn’t left their home country’s borders.

Lastly, we have a stateless person. Someone who, usually as a cause of some sort of ethnic discrimination, does not have any recognized nationality. This excludes them from education and health care, among other things.

We can point out locations like Syria (with their now 6 million displaced persons) and other violent hot-spots, but realistically most countries around the world have people who legitimately flee in fear of their life and livelihood. There are over 15 million refugees living around the world today, some perspective:

Additionally, the majority of refugees are housed in developing (poor) countries, who do not really have the means to support them to the level they need. There’s just too many people and too little resources.

Along with the already deficit in food, land, protection, etc, according to Amnesty International, the conditions are only getting worse. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that many authorities are more concerned with protecting their countries boundaries than protecting the rights of their fellow man. These already vulnerable people are subject to all kinds of abuses, even after escaping their original situations. Being subject to sexual abuse, held in metal crates, starved and exploited all with impunity.

Outside parties fail to take action either because they see no personal benefit, or because their scared by the idea or soverignty (both of with, we must highlight, as unacceptable excuses to allow these atrocities to continue and expand).

So, this is not a blog to emphasize the horrible things happening around the world, this is a blog help you help them. So here are some ways to do just that:

When you see something, say something. Just like at the airport. When you hear of some recent horrible happening, make sure to not sweet it under the rug. If you believe that something should be happening, in an organization you’re affiliated with, your church, school, government, whatever, make it happen, or demand to know why action is not being taken. It’s important to feel this global responsibility, especially since we can (like so many other things) be numbed by the numbers, and just chalk it up to a responsibility that is not ours. ADVOCACY.

Mostly refugees need donated money, food, clothes, blankets, etc, because they’re geographically farther away. These items don’t need to be new, either, donate your old blankets, tents, baby items, etc.

An organization named CWS has a ‘welcome a refugee’ program, which is really hands on an interesting, that I encourage everyone check out! It can be an afternoon commitment or longer term: http://www.cwsglobal.org/get-involved/welcome-a-refugee/

This really long following link (sorry) is to the United Nations refugee program, and they have some really great resources and organized ideas on how to help out, although its mostly financial and fund raising: http://www.unrefugees.org/?alt=1&utm_expid=89280078-1.OKFu6tKFQ6-mTnQljwM3wA.1&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3D%26esrc%3Ds%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D2%26ved%3D0CCgQFjAB%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.unrefugees.org%252F%26ei%3DGmi0VP2mE-nbsAS3mILQBA%26usg%3DAFQjCNFU3DM5KqTLfm3Za0wJ0DqHV3go1g

Amnesty International is the largest, most direct contact organizations around the world to help refugees. Their aim is to protect human rights, and that’s exactly what these people need, is to have their dignity upheld and to prevent the world from categorizing them as some homeless underclass. http://www.amnesty.org/en/refugees-and-migrants

The best thing we can do for this people is to humanize them, and to realize that realistically this could be anyone. Treat them like a member of your same human family, and act as such.

Happy New Year, lets make this one with impact.

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