Student Journeys

The Long Road to Home: Students4Refugees

Refugee. To many people; that word brings forth mental images of wind-battered and world-weary groups of minorities arriving on shores by rafts of little seaworthiness. Of adults and children, taken far before their time by the unforgiving wrath of nature’s and man’s harshest elements.

And to others; thoughts of loved ones, spouses, cousins, daughters and fathers, family, co- workers and friends.

The prejudicial anger and resentment of those bellowing voices during the European ‘migrant’ crisis of seemingly so many years past still work to bury the stories of those who seek peace and safety in the arms of the countrymen they have yet to meet, and it’s seemingly as critical as ever to amplify the voices and stories of those who have had no choice but to abandon all that they have known in days, months and decades past.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) defines refugees as ‘people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country’, yet this does little to approach a true understanding of those very human and emotionally complex stories that many of us are unaware. Stories such as those of Sir Alfred Mehran who was forcibly expelled from Iran for simply protesting against the Shah and forced to live in terminal one of Charles de Gaulle Airport for 18 years.

As we look to the future of society, we see old wounds being shut and opened, yet it remains as important as ever to not forget the lives affected.

Having said that, there are numerous ways to help refugees and it is important to understand its significance. Firstly, we must take into account what is fundamental for refugees. Considering their experiences, it is pretty evident that a refugee is seeking to become a productive member of society. This suggests that they will require the right to work, the right to healthcare facilities, education and any other public good. The quicker a refugee becomes able to integrate into the labour force and enjoy the public goods, the easier it will become for them. However, the issue seems to be that many refugees get involved in the black market. Aware that selling and buying in the black market is illegal, there are reasons causing them to choose this pathway of life. This demonstrates how governments are not fulfilling the needs of the refugees that are attempting their best to enhance their role in the society, simply because they are either unaware or unbothered.

One may think, how can we as individuals help refugees? Over the years, political participation and action has become a more common way of increasing awareness. Raising awareness is crucial and an important step to help refugees. This is possible through discussions, or spreading the word, making posters or pamphlets and so on. Moreover, donations and fundraising is another way to support refugees as this can financially provide them with their needs- something the government or state has failed to meet.

Overall, this is why Students4Refugees is passionate in building a society that both understands and respects refugees. We will work on achieving our agenda by organizing fundraiser events, raising awareness and collaborating with organizations that may contribute to helping refugees.

Elizabeth Sole, Year 1, Law LLB (Hons)

Zohra Shamim, Year 2, BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations

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