The Refugee World Cup – Thursday 19 June

Colombia, Ivory Coast, Uruguay, England, Japan, Greece

Colombia has one of the world’s largest populations of displaced people – somewhere between 2.6 and 4.3 million – due to ongoing armed conflict in the region.

See here for information on the photo project, Land of Light, undertaken by UNHCR Colombia and the Colombian photographer Santiago Escobar Jaramillo, which was realized through a series of  workshops with displaced communities.

Georgina’s story

Ivory Coast

Bere Tassoumane’s journey from stateless person to state official.

Some who left Liberia for safety in Ivory Coast during its civil war later returned the hospitality when Ivory Coast went through the same terrible trauma.  “During the Liberian war, refugees who left from Liberia to Ivory Coast stopped with people who also fled this Ivorian war,” Kolubah added.  “So those who were hosted as Liberian refugees in Ivory Coast do not want their host to go to the camp. They want them to stay with them no matter what it is.”

Uruguay

Uruguay’s president has agreed to take 100 Syrian child refugees.  The complexities of refugee politics are clear from this article – both in terms of the contribution relative to that of other nations, and to the problem as a whole, but also in terms of the way domestic politicians respond to even this ‘drop in the ocean’.

England

Refugee Action tells the stories of some of the refugees they work with, and the struggles they face in the UK.

I am, probably, more critical of my own country’s response on refugee and asylum issues, than of most others.  I expect more, I hope for more.  And there is so much to be disappointed, or angry, about.  I had to make a mental readjustment, however, talking to a taxi driver yesterday – father from Djibouti, mother from Britain, born in Dubai, and in no doubt at all that this was the place to be, a generous and welcoming society.  I found myself giving ground, acknowledging, I hope not too grudgingly, that it was good, even if I believed it could be better.   He’d have passed Tebbitt’s cricket test too, with a higher score than me…

Japan

Even a wealthy, peaceful nation, which tends not to persecute its citizens, can encounter a refugee crisis as the result of natural disaster.  The tsunami in 2011 left many homeless and facing desperate conditions.   ‘Freezing winds, hail storms and thick snow are the latest threats to 430,000 beleaguered survivors of northern Japan‘s week-long cascade of disasters. After a massive earthquake, devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis, many people made homeless are now facing icy weather, with temperatures forecast to plunge to –5C (23F).’ (Guardian, March 2011).

Greece

Syrian refugee Hussein finds safety in Greece.

In 1923, Greeks from Asia Minor were evacuated or relocated in Greece following the Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations signed in Lausanne.  This followed a period of brutal massacres and ‘ethnic cleansing’ instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire.  The first census after the evacuations showed the number of Greeks of Asia Minor origin to be 1,164,267. Descendants of the refugees took part in the great Greek migrations of the interwar period, as well as the large immigrations to the United States, Australia and Germany in the 1960s-1970s. Today, about 40% of the population of Greece claims full or partial descent from the Asia Minor refugees; as does an almost equal percentage of diasporan Greeks.

 

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