On World Refugee Day, UNHCR on Monday unveiled a new campaign to create awareness about the problems faced by people who are compelled to migrate from their countries of origin in the wake of unfavourable circumstances.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) campaign, trending on social media websites as #WithRefugees, aims to instill a sense empathy and understanding among all global citizens towards those who are forced to flee their countries due to poverty, terrorism, war, political and military crises.
“Every year we commemorate this day to solicit our solidarity with the people who have to leave their own country,” Yasuko Shimizu, Chief of Mission, UNHCR India, said.
The hour-long event at TERI University here saw several refugees from Afghanistan, Myanmar and Syria share their first-hand experiences.
“Taliban did not let the girls go to school at my place. When I went to school in VII standard for the first time, I did not know how to write my name,” Salma, who is originally from Afghanistan, said.
She was “forced” to move out of the country “for raising her voice” against gender inequality there. She now works as a yoga instructor in New Delhi.
64-year-old Mohammad Salim, who has been living in India with his three children since 2011, has faced discrimination not only in his motherland Myanmar but also in Bangladesh where he was allegedly implicated under false charges by the police.
“I am from Myanmar but I left the country with my children because of military crisis and immense poverty. Then I moved to Bangladesh but again faced discrimination after which I came to India and have been live here since then,” he said.
Talking about the difficulties he faced, Salim, who now works as an interpreter with the UNHRC here, said he was homeless for nearly four months and barely had any money to feed his children.
“I just want to say that support us and accept us. We need all of you,” he said.
Dismissing the “myth” that refugees are a “burden on the host country,” Journalist Pamela Philipose, who was part of the panel, pointed out that the problem was global and required immediate intervention, on the part of both civilians and governments, to ensure security and basic human rights to the refugees.
“The refugees are the victims of both the countries – where they come from and where they are displaced to,” she