A Helping Hand for Refugees

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Refugees: Stopping the Madness

The Burma Times, Dhamir & Fair Observer - 1 September 2014

Widespread violence around the world has caused millions of people to suffer and live in poverty.

Muslim countries are rocked by war, hunger and poverty. The cries for help of people who live amid death, injury and destruction are heartbreaking.

In the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, thousands of homes were demolished and damaged in Gaza, while tens of hospitals and health centers were affected by the war. The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) says that 300,000 Palestinians have sought shelter in UN schools. The number of injured exceeded 10,000. Gaza urgently needs assistance in food, health care and housing.

Palestinians live in difficult conditions, not just in Gaza, but also in refugee camps in neighboring countries. About 18,000 Palestinians are struggling to survive in Syria's Yarmouk camp, due to widespread hunger as a result of a year-long siege. It is impossible to forget the images of people who starved to death in Yarmouk.

Palestinians who fled the Arab-Israeli wars over the past six decades sought refuge in other countries, including Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Numerous diseases have spread inside camps due to unsanitary conditions. It is becoming harder to treat the injured. Almost 2 million people are internally displaced in Gaza and the West Bank. The total number of Palestinian refugees is nearly 5 million. This is approximately the same as the population of Palestine.6

In Iraq, Christians, Turkmen, Shiites and Yazidis fleeing attacks by the Islamic State now represent a new wave of refugees. Children are the worst affected by the harsh conditions.

Nobody wants to be a refugee. However, millions of people in the world are now forced to migrate, leaving their homes and assets behind. The opportunities of the world are sufficient to feed and accommodate everyone as long as the people of conscience listen to their hearts.

Syrian refugees are also faced with a humanitarian catastrophe. According to the United Nations, over 191,000 people have been killed and several hundred thousand injured. In total, there are approximately 9.5 million internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugees — 6.5 million within Syria and 3 million in neighboring countries. It is totally unbecoming of any Muslim to turn a blind eye to these facts, be unwilling to assist and fail to help find long-lasting and deep-rooted solutions. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that because of climate conditions and high food prices, 33 countries, 26 of which are in Africa, require external food aid. According to the FAO, 870,000 people are in need of food aid in Somalia, 3.5 million in South Sudan and 5 million in Sudan.7

The problems in Muslim lands are by no means limited to Syria and Palestine. Many Muslims, including Uighur Turks, Iraqis, Afghans, people from Rakhine, Somalis and Sudanese, are looking to people of good conscience for help. UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator for South Sudan Toby Lanzer states that the situation in South Sudan is as dangerous as that in Syria. Are we really unable to provide enough aid for people who are suffering?

A father in tears as he does not have anything other than dry bread to feed his child is consoled by his own child. The world's opinion is largely indifferent to this suffering, and this obliviousness has been getting worse day by day.

Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen, a leading figure in the FAO campaign against food wastage, states that 100 million tons of food is thrown away in Europe every year. According to the most optimistic FAO estimates, one-third of the food produced for human consumption in the world is either past its sell-by-date before it can be eaten or simply thrown away.

In conclusion, the data shows that there is enough food resources to feed all of the 7 billion people in the world. In that case, the most pressing matter is to get these resources to areas where they are most needed, and then to establish systems to ensure that nobody in the world goes hungry.

Food is only one aspect of waste. The greatest waste is the amount of money spent on weapons made for fighting and the bombs built to devastate cities. Since love is imprisoned in the world today, countries are arming themselves in an insane frenzy; hatred results in destruction and more suffering. When waste of all manner is prevented, and when mechanisms of distribution are set up for God's sake, these problems will be eradicated.

The real sickness in the world is lovelessness. There is a profound lack of love behind hatred and conflict. It is lovelessness that underlies disagreements and violence between different communities on the basis of race, sect or belief. The world is now waiting for people of love to govern, bring justice and put an end to the bloodshed.

 

Footnotes

6 http://www.aljazeera.com.tr/interaktif/66-yillik-felaket

7 http://www.aa.com.tr/tr/dunya/353796--26-afrika-ulkesi-gida-yardimina-muhtac

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