The never-ending dilemma of ignored refugees

Every human being has a special attachment to his motherland. He wants to live and grow old among his family and friends and in the place where he is born. Though migration has its benefits, it looks very painful for a person to leave his home, whether under duress, coercion, economic compulsion, or political reasons. To become a refugee means losing your identity as a citizen and turning into a rolling stone with no destination to reach.

The lives of refugees in the current world of economic constraints and social distress are unbearable and dejecting. The pain of separation from their families and friends is unspeakable. The voices for the rights of refugees are getting slower and dim. The world conscience has to rise to the agonies of millions of refugees across the world. There was a time when most states which were signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention took significant steps to ensure the refugees their due rights and status. Still, nowadays, almost all are restricted to only Twitter, Facebook and video conferences to chant slogans for the rights of migrants. No practical work is done to solve their problems.

Many countries, including the United States, claim sympathies to refugees, but their policies are to discourage permanent resettlement. This indifferent attitude has added to the problems of refugees. Thousands of people around the world die after being granted refugee status by the UNHCR in the hope of resettlement in a country where their lives would be safe and would not be persecuted on religious, ethnic and linguistic grounds. Historically, the United States was the biggest supporter of the resettlement of refugees; however, it has failed to resettle even a single refugee after the Trump regime took over the White House.

The so-called international community and advocates of human rights, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and many more European countries with few exceptions, also followed US footsteps and have adopted policies that have practically made it impossible for refugees to look for peaceful lives in their countries. The irony for refugees fleeing from war-torn areas in Muslim countries would not be recognized as refugees with equal human rights.

Moreover, some Muslim countries even imposed more strict legislations trying to get across the borders to brotherly Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Malaysia, Brunei, Muscat, Turkey and Morocco. Every year on June 20, International Refugee Day is celebrated with tall claims and commitment to the refugee’s convention, but seldom has been witnessed where words are turned into reality. Countries that signed the 1951 Refugee Convention avoid reporting their progress each year on the number of refugees resettled. It is like time has just stopped for the refugees, and they are caught in between a vicious time cycle. The democratic countries should play their role in the welfare of refugees, securing their future and enabling an environment feasible for adjustment and resettlement.

Hundreds of thousands are still stranded on hostile border areas, and many more are witnessing this international refugee day in jails for a crime they have never committed. The right groups, watchdogs and international community must raise an influential voice for such deprived people. The Refugee Convention protects people fleeing persecution and trauma. It describes an asylum seeker as someone who is outside the country of their nationality “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” and “is unable to, or owing to such fear is unwilling to, avail himself of the protection of that country”. Thousands have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea, and the actual figure is likely to be far higher because so many people disappear without a trace.

Let’s give them hope who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea or international borders. Their hope elides in our voice. Let’s raise our agent for the voiceless. The world conscience must realize that refugees are human beings caught in sufferings not by their own choice but by different compulsions, and they meet special attention and care. I have been a refugee journalist for ten years. I think God made me a refugee to inform the world about the plight of refugees through the pen. They open their eyes and learn about the plight of refugees and play their role in helping them. Any citizen of any country like me can become a refugee at any time. But in this society, animals are more respected than refugees. Humanity is gone.

(BY: Syed Fawad Ali Shah. The writer is a senior Journalist. He can be reached at pmpk55@hotmail.com)

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