Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Injustice and the Modern-Day Refugee
Two children share a smile in the Dakhla refugee camp in Algeria. UN Photo/Evan Schneider
It can be so easy to put from our minds the plight of the rest of the globe when life here in the States seems to get more difficult each day, between the high unemployment rate, the poor economy, and the general stress that seems to rule our lives. However, there is a world beyond ourselves and the problems of that world are far greater than we can perceive.
According to the European Parliament, right now there are 10 million people living in refugee camps. These are people much like us who have no place to call home, who have gotten used to feeling displaced, without an identity, and who are some of the poorest people in the world. The term “refugee” is rather broad, but Human Rights Education Associates define refugees as “people who are forced to flee their homes due to persecution, whether on an individual basis or as part of a mass exodus due to political, religious, military or other problems.” How terrible it must be to be uprooted from all that you know and love, through no fault of your own, perhaps never to see your home again?
Furthermore, horrible living conditions plague these refugee camps. Hunger – even starvation – is prevalent among refugees, as well as the spread of disease due to a lack of effective sanitation systems as well as the large amount of people living in such close proximity. These refugee camps are scattered across the globe, located in the war-torn Middle East, as well as famine-ravaged Africa.
Furthermore, some refugees are refused aid and amnesty from their new countries. For example, stateless refugees from Burma known as the Rohingya, are denied access to humanitarian aid because the government of Bangladesh denies them access. The Rohingya are a religious and ethnic minority, and according to Physicians for Human Rights, they live in refugee camps, but without official refugee status. As a result, they are denied food, living in huts made of twigs and plastic next to open sewers, and many of their children suffering from malnutrition. This is just one case of many.
Bread for the World aims to fight against injustices such as these. People of faith and conscience have a collective responsibility to look out for our fellow human beings, be they here or across the ocean. We must alert our members of Congress to the extreme poverty and hunger rampant in refugee camp.
Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters has a mini campaign with the aim to form a circle of protection around international food aid programs that deliver humanitarian aid to those who most desperately need it. America is a nation that despite its hardships is still quite prosperous. Let us use the resources we have been blessed with to be a blessing to those who need it most – the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the refugee.
Jael Kimball is a media relations intern at Bread for the World.