Posts Tagged Refugee
Playing today: Australia, Netherlands, Spain, Chile, Cameroon, Croatia
In December 2010, a flimsy boat was wrecked by a storm on the cliffs of Christmas Island. 50 of the 89 men, women and children aboard, all asylum seekers, predominantly from Iran and Iraq, died.
In the mid-16th century, many Protestant Walloons and Flemings came to England to escape warfare and religious persecution, arriving in England through the Channel ports, many initially settling in Sandwich, until the numbers became too great. Subsequently, the Walloons were permitted to move to Canterbury, and were welcomed by the city. ‘The strangers (as they were called), were allowed to gather for worship at the church of St Alphege, opposite the Archbishop’s Palace, and later in the western crypt of the Cathedral. Most of the refugees were engaged in the weaving trade, and provided local employment, and a flourishing trade in finished cloth for sale in London or abroad.
In 1937, during the Spanish civil war, a group of almost 4,000 children was evacuated from Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain. They embarked from Santurce, Bilbao, on the ‘Habana’ on Friday 21st May and dropped anchor at Fawley, at the entrance to Southampton Water, on Saturday evening. The following morning, Sunday 23rd, they docked at Southampton. Initially accommodated in a large camp at North Stoneham, Eastleigh, they were eventually dispersed to many ‘colonies’ throughout the country.
Chile – Julio Parrado tells the story of his arrest and torture after the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile, and how he found sanctuary in Sweden.
A few weeks ago photographer Frederic Noy went to Cameroon with UNHRC to photograph the arrival of Central African refugees fleeing the violence in their country.
The UN Refugee Agency is recommending that the process of ceasing refugee status of refugees displaced from Croatia in the 1990s begins. Almost 20 years after the conflict in the former Yugoslavia ended, the circumstances that triggered displacement have fundamentally changed. Regional cooperation has intensified, voluntary returns have taken place, different ethnic groups have proven able to peacefully co-exist and economic and political progress is increasingly visible. Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia continue their efforts to find sustainable housing solutions for some 74,000 vulnerable refugees, returnees and IDPs from the 1991-1995 conflicts.
As Refugee Week draws to a close, my thanks go to the bloggers whose posts I’ve republished here – Manchester Archives, Futile Democracy, Cities@Manchester, Bristol Somali Media Group, and to Pauline Levis for sharing her father’s story of the Kindertransport.
I’ve also flagged up campaigns from the UNHCR and Amnesty, and celebrated particularly the work of CARA on their eightieth anniversary.
Thanks too to all of those who have retweeted and shared my posts with their own contacts and reached a wider audience.
Finally, a plug for one of the organisations that work to provide safety in a hostile world, Refugee Action:
and for one particular project close to my heart:
A powerful post from blogger Futile Democracy on Syrian women refugees.
Originally posted on Futile Democracy:
The Syrian crisis poses an intense amount of questions for lawmakers across the Globe, with each question just as important and as crucial to the process of peace than every other. Do we arm the rebels? If not, then what next? If we are to provide arms to the rebel groups, which rebel groups to provide arms to? How to know and ensure those arms won’t fall into Islamist hands? How to ensure a peaceful and stable democracy upon the fall of Assad? What balance to strike with regard diplomacy with the Russians? How to deal with unwanted intrusions of Iran? These are all grand scale, legitimate questions that rightly require thoughtful and decisive action from the international community. There is however, one major and shocking crisis that we seem to hear very little about, and that is the refugee crisis. And within that crises, is the crisis of the…
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A passport can be synonymous with freedom. It can open doors – to pass through the ‘porte’ of the city wall. A safe conduct pass, For a refugee seeking asylum it can mean the end to months or years of uncertainty, of near-destitution, of fearing the knock on the door which could mean deportation. Indefinite leave to remain – the right to work, to settle, to pursue your education, to have a family life. And the right to leave as well, on holiday or to see family, without fearing that the door will close firmly behind you.
To be ‘sans papiers’ is to be a non-person, invisible to employers, health care services, landlords, police – but at the same time often to be a target, a scapegoat, the ‘usual suspect’. ‘To not have a passport is to be less than fully human, a non-entity, since in a global world one must be under the aegis of a sovereign state’ (Colin Dickey, 2007).
But as Dickey goes on to say, ‘to have a passport, paradoxically, does not suddenly liberate you, it simply re-inscribes you into a control society of surveillance and micro-power’. At worst, having those necessary and dangerous ‘papers’, that secure your identity in relation to the state that you inhabit, can be a sentence of death…
Colin Dickey, ‘On Passports: W G Sebald and the Menace of Travel’, Image & Narrative, 19 (November 2007)
This article and poem, from Bristol Somali Media Group, were added as comments on my blog, but deserve a higher profile.
Originally posted on Bristol Somali Media Group:
Refugees are a fact of everyday life today. They come from all over the globe and mainly live in developing countries. Their story is one of hardship, misery and courage in the face of adversity. One cannot help, but be humbled by the stories of courage and immense patience as refugees flee their homes and spaces they love to start anew elsewhere far from their heart, culture and those they love. Many would have us believe that these people are only after exploiting the developed nations’ benefit systems and hide under the banner of refugee while seeking economic advantages. This is a misguided and false accusation that is intolerable. Refugees deserve better treatment and welcome especially in those nations that claim to champion Human Rights.
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Above: A Runner, Another Runner, Me
Well, I never said I’d run the Great Yorkshire fast. In fact, I quite distinctly and explicitly said I’d run slowly, and I did. Slightly more slowly than last year, in fact. However hard I try, I find myself falling back towards the rear of the last wave of runners, alongside people who are in fact walking, and people in cumbersome fancy dress. If I’m honest, I do mind that, a bit.
I don’t expect to cross the finish line to a ticker tape welcome, cheer leaders waving pom poms, reporters queuing up to interview me about the experience. But for the stragglers, those last few runners to stagger over the line, there’s a bit of a sense of anti-climax as we stumble on suddenly jelly like legs to grab the last few goodie bags, and head home, as if we’ve arrived at a party after the booze has run out, and the music’s been turned down low.
I like to think, however, that there’s something a little bit heroic about my continued efforts in a field where I am so clearly not gifted. I like to think that the kind and cheery people who still line the route to the bitter end, who call out ‘Well done Catherine, keep going, you’re doing fine’, recognise a certain bloody-minded determination, whether or not they recognise or value the cause for which I run.
In recent weeks there have been cheers and tears for a Somali born refugee who’s proud to say that this is his country and to wear the British flag around his shoulders as he kneels on the track to pray. And as we marvel at the Paralympics we remember also that it was a refugee from Nazism, Ludwig Guttman, who saw that people with spinal cord injuries who had been written off, left to die slowly and in despair could be given new hope, purpose and the chance to achieve through therapy and sport. (And Guttman wouldn’t have been here without the help of the Society for Protection of Science and Learning, now the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics.) This doesn’t prove anything, of course, except that amongst those who make their way here are some exceptionally gifted individuals. But to me it says that a country that is confident enough in itself to be open and generous, hospitable and inclusive, will be enriched by that. If we were to take away from our culture the contribution of refugees, we’d lose more than that gold medal, and more even than the Paralympic Games. We’d lose landmark buildings, high street names, publishing houses, works of art – in every field of business, politics, science, arts, sports, we’d lose. The societies that drive people out because of their beliefs, their race, their sexuality, they lose. And if the displaced and the exiled are not given sanctuary, then those people, gifted or not, destined to be famous or not, will be lost too, along with those who never got the chance to escape.
So, actually, I do like to think that I can use not only something I am quite good at (writing, communication) but something that I’m really
rather rubbish at, both for the same purpose, both to support the same cause, because more and more I believe that it is one of the most
important things we can do, to support refugees.
If you’d like to help, you can sponsor me here: http://www.justgiving.com/Catherine-Annabel0
Find out more about the work of Refugee Action here:
- Why I run, why I run very slowly – and why I run for Refugee Action (cathannabel.wordpress.com)