Countries should make refugees feel at home
"Extremist groups present a mirror image of our level of ignorance towards basic human experiences of love, empathy, friendship and coexistence."
June 20, World Refugee Day, is an annual reminder of pressing questions dealing with the reality and future of the 68 million people who have fled their homes to escape war, persecution or terror. Every minute of every day, the staggering number continues to grow.
This international observance day brings the spotlight on the international community?s humanitarian achievements in ending their plight, and presents an opportunity to look into ways we can fulfil the global responsibility we have towards the forcibly displaced people. In light of developments in recent years - an embarrassing reality of violence and extremism for our collective human race - one would agree that this responsibility has grown exponentially and warrants a stronger response.
Those who have been following these conflicts closely and digging deeper to learn their causes will often see a lack of knowledge and awareness, and a dearth of understanding of the self and others, coming up as usual suspects. Extremist groups present a mirror image of our level of ignorance towards basic human experiences of love, empathy, friendship and coexistence. It is only in the dark and insipid world of ignorance that hateful ideologies, which justify destruction and boundless human suffering, can thrive.
Extremist ideologies form a thick veil, preventing those who follow them from looking at the world and its people for what they truly are. The lack of access to education and life's basic necessities, deplorable living conditions with no opportunities for employment or a secure future, are all conditions in which extremist ideologies breed.
By not offering our displaced children these life's basics, by not taking the actions required to integrate them back into society, we are pushing them behind this veil. We are leaving them with limited opportunities; one among them being walking on the path of extremism.
As a global community, we need our leadership to adopt carefully-crafted strategies that make asylum seekers feel at home, while ensuring that citizens do not feel threatened about losing their jobs or worry about sacrificing their claim to national resources. The world needs to come together on one platform that will foster harmony and coexistence between displaced and host communities. This is every bit achievable.
So, as we observe World Refugee Day, let us join hands to refresh our commitment to alleviating the sufferings of forcibly displaced peoples around the world, and help them rebuild their lives.
Together, let us do our best to bring them food, shelter, education, and job opportunities, for these are the only ways to protect them, preserve their dignity and lay the foundation of a sustainable future. We also need to bolster our support to host countries so they can secure the interests of their own as well as those they have taken in with compassion.
Humanity is humanity's biggest hope, after all. So, as long as we are there for each other, our displaced brothers and sisters around the world can be confident that the future they so deserve is on the horizon, coming closer every day.
Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi is UNHCR's Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation.