Australians welcome refugees, but our federal government doesn't
(C) Greg Wood, Sydney (AFP/Getty)
World Refugee Day 2017
Play therapy - helping refugee children overcome trauma
(C) Philippe Carr/MSF
According to the UNHCR in 2016 there were 22.5 million refugees. Of those refugees only 189,300 were resettled last year. More than half of the refugees are under the age of 18 years and many are born in refugee camps - a whole generation knows no other existence.
Africa still remains the continent where the largest number of refugees are “hosted” followed by the Middle East. Asia and the Pacific have the lowest number. 55% of refugees worldwide come from three countries - South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria.
Doing research for today’s blog I came across numerous media articles about the plight of refugees. What I found incongruous was the advertising that appeared on many of these online sites - banner ads across pictures of refugees that were advertising ways to improve your investment fund; pictures of celebrities and half clad women; holidays in exotic locations; consumer goods on sale. The effect these ads have is to normalise the refugee crisis. It just becomes part of the visual noise and when there’s so much other information available it takes away from the import of these media articles and photographs in raising awareness.
While the plight of the Syrian refugees is currently headline news, and rightly so, there are many others that the West rarely hears about such as the more than 66,000 Sri Lankan refugees living across 109 camps in Tamil Nadu State in India. Some of these people have been living in miserable conditions in the camps for nearly 20 years with no prospect of change for the better. A scenario repeated across the world.
The size of the problem is overwhelming, but we cannot lose hope. The great work being done by so many is recognised, yet there is so much more to do and governments around the world need to take a global view and come together. We've heard it all before, but we need to keep saying it. Change is possible. We need to hold onto that belief. As the Dalai Lama says, change can begin with a single act. Sharing these photographs and raising awareness is a small contribution that may spark a conversation that may influence people to act.
This is where some of the world's 22.5 million refugees live:
Dadaab Refugee Camp Kenya - the world's largest (C) UN
Tamil Nadu State in India
Nyarugusu, Tanzania (below) - more than 290,000 people live in the refugee camp in Tanzania’s northwestern Kigoma District, the majority of whom come from neighbouring Burundi. Overcrowded, unsanitary and dangerous, camps like this struggle to provide even the most rudimentary shelter and care. Often perpetrators live in the camp along with their victims. The psychological trauma is beyond comprehension. This refugee camp is one of the oldest, established in 1959.
(C) Eleanor Weber Ballard/MSF
Tanzania (C) Erin Byrnes/AFP
Yida South Sudan (below) where 70,000 Sudanese refugees live
Yida camp, South Sudan from the air.
Yida camp on the ground.
The majority of Malian refugees living in Mbera camp in Mauritania (above and below) arrived in 2012 after violent clashes in north Mali and refugees numbers continue to rise. Photos: MSF
Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan (below) houses around 80,000 Syrians more than half of which are children. The camp is so large it is now considered Jordan’s fourth biggest "city".
Syria, ten, and Hassan, four, walked for almost 12 hours to cross the border from Syria to Jordan.
They now live in Za’atari refugee camp with their mother.
Za’atari refugee camp/Oxfam
Jabalia (below) is the largest of eight refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. Today nearly 110,000 refugees occupy an area of only 1.4 square kilometres. There is one health centre, high unemployment, electricity supply issues, high population density and 20 schools running double shifts to accommodate the large number of children.
Kakuma refugee camp Kenya (below)
J Craig VOA