Today, on the 20th of June, the world celebrates International Refugee Day, and this year, the 60th anniversary of the signing of the UN Refugee Convention.
There are 43 million uprooted people in the world. Every day, men, women and children are forced to flee their countries, leaving their homes behind them.
As you know if you have followed any of my blog posts over the last year on Cafe Avra, I spent 6 months before I came to Israel documenting refugee stories in Kenya and Uganda alongside the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Personally I probably have met over 200+ refugees throughout my time in Kenya/Uganda, which is just a tiny fraction. There are hundreds of thousands.
Above is a video I made for International Women’s Day just a few months ago (March 2011) on the situation of Congolese Refugees in Uganda that I must re-iterate on this World Refugee Day 2011.
As I repeatedly say through all my posts I have written on refugees, I encourage everyone to take a second to think about and try to understand why refugees have to flee their homes. the struggles they go through each day getting access to basic resources and why we need to leave our preconceived notions about refugees behind.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, today, as I have written about before, rape is used as a weapon of war which forces many refugees into Uganda.
Life is very difficult and dangerous (in Uganda) in the refugee camps where UNHCR provides food and minor assistance, so many refugees leave and try their luck in the capital, Kampala, which is usually not much easier. Kampala is where I met these Congolese Women.
The political conflict is extremely complicated, but the simple fact is that rebels control the regions of Eastern Congo which are home to various ‘conflict minerals’ used in our cellphones and computers–i.e. the 3 “T’s….tin, tungsten, and tantalum (as well as gold).
For more detailed info do visit the Enough Project’s website, ( http://www.enoughproject.org )
As I write I am not focusing on being overly liberal and granting refugee status or citizenship to every single refugee claim.
Israel happens to have 33,000 asylum seekers in which the considerations of granting asylum are far different then granting refugee status to the Congolese in Uganda. (This topic I will explore further at a later date.)
I am talking about the human level…trying to understand just for a moment what a refugee has went through before making an assessment on their current situation.
Like I said above, Israel also happens to have quite a dynamic asylum seeker population, who mostly live in the South of Tel Aviv. The refugee community is celebrating World Refugee Day this Friday, June 24th.
For those in Israel who want to attend:
Music | Protest | Solidarity Friday 24/06/2011, Tel Aviv Old Central Bus Station, starting at 12:00
Performances of Israelis and Africans*: Bilaka (Congo), Alma Zohar, Sean Mongoza, Quami, Sinit (Eritrea), Special Jam, Vince (Nigeria), System Ali with Assaf Youth Club, Duop Lulone (South Sudan), DJ Ophir Tabul (Café Gibraltar)