A Helping Hand for Refugees

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A heart for helping refugees

Arab News, Pakistan Observer & The Malaysian Insider – 27 June 2015

For people sitting comfortably at home, refugees are always the "other people. Five years ago, Syrians might have looked at refugees as the "other people." You never know that maybe within a few years those who treat refugees with contempt will find themselves in the same position. Maybe they will be left with nothing in their hands only to be amazed by the world's insensitivity. Of course we pray that God protect every country from such a tragedy but we also need to remember that none of the 59 million refugees in the world were born that way.

The world marks the World Refugee Day on June 20. This year the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released statistics for 2014, which showed that 59.5 million people in the world are refugees. This is the greatest global refugee crisis since the World War II. The international community has left the host countries to handle the crisis on their own. Only 23 percent of the UN's practical assistance target for Syrian refugees has been achieved. In Africa, only 11 percent of the money needed for refugees has been collected. Africa continues to be regarded as unimportant, and therefore without a solution.

The most effective solution to the refugee crisis would at present seem to be the establishment of safe zones under UN supervision — albeit on a temporary basis — in countries experiencing conflicts. However, the fact that the UN will be unable to transfer money to those regions makes that idea impractical. One solution is for several developed countries to act as guarantors for those safe zones in countries with refugee problems and to help meet their needs. The problem at this stage, however, is to find an upstanding country of good conscience capable of doing that.

It is wrong to imagine that the refugee crisis is limited to people living in tent cities. The numbers and plight of those leaving their homelands for an uncertain future, with no shelter anywhere and facing a terrible humanitarian crisis are astonishing. As of May 31, 1,865 people lost their lives seeking to cross the Mediterranean this year. In Southeast Asia, some 300 people are estimated to have died on boats in the first quarter of 2015. Causes of death include hunger, thirst and violence on the part of the crews. According to the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) officials, women are raped on boats, men are tortured and thrown into the sea and children are abused aboard rickety boats.

The refugees, who fled their homes and countries taking very few personal belongings with them, were welcomed with open arms on the borders of Turkey.

Although the international community does not appear very keen on resolving this crisis, some recent measures taken in this regard have raised hopes — Operation Triton being one. Fortunately, the Rohingya crisis has also been recognized as an issue for the first time.

It was German President Gauck who said, "Countries in Europe have a moral duty to save refugees from death in the Mediterranean. We will lose our honor by abandoning people on the waters in front of the gates to our continent."

Currently, the country housing the most refugees, according to the UNHCR report, is Turkey. Outsiders might consider this a huge problem for the country. Yet playing host to our Syrian and Iraqi brothers is an honor for us. God has given us the opportunity to help the persecuted, wretched people. We experienced that same honor when we welcomed Jews fleeing from Spain, Russians fleeing from Stalin and Kurds fleeing from Saddam. That is why we still enjoy those communities' love and prayers. Communities never forget such good deeds as long as they exist. That is because the numbers of those giving them such opportunities have always been very few.

Protecting these people who are rendered weak and needy, preventing women and children from being mistreated and making them happy are priceless values.

Turkey, a country still striving to develop, has managed to set aside $5.1 billion for refugees. Yet the United Nations, consisting of 193 countries including 7 richest ones in the world, cannot find any money for refugees. Countries are trying to solve the refugee problem, which they could do in a number of ways, solely through military laws intended to deter human trafficking. Instead of finding solutions to the core issues forcing people to abandon their homelands, members of the international community are trying to prevent these unfortunate people from reaching their territories.

A refugee is not a burden, but a guest from God. They are source of pride for Turkey, which is currently housing 2.5 million such guests according to unofficial figures.

Whatever booty God gives to His Messenger from city dwellers belongs to God and tho the Messenger and to near relatives and orphans and the very poor and travelers, so that it does not become something which merely revolves between the rich among you…
(Surat Al-Hashr, 7)

 

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