Here at Vandu a lot of our work comes through refugees, with many of our clients requiring interpreting or translation for languages such as Arabic, Tigrinya and Kurdish Sorani. On Monday the 19th of June, we’ll be celebrating refugee week along with the rest of the country here in England and around the world, but how much do you know about refugees?
Something that sometimes gets mixed up is the difference between immigrants and refugees. The definition of a refugee as we know it today came about following World War II due to the large number of people fleeing Eastern Europe, and the subsequent UN 1951 Refugee Convention, that gave this definition:
"[A refugee is someone whom] owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it."
This definition was expanded in 1967 to include those fleeing from “external aggression, occupation…or events seriously disturbing public order”. When looking around at the current events around the world, you can see why these caveats have been added. In places like North Korea and to a lesser extent Eritrea, there are accusations of human rights violations and persecution, and in Somalia there is a famine which is spreading the population onto neighbouring countries. But war is the main culprit in the creation of refugees. The on-going European refugee crisis an example of this; as of 2016 nearly 2 million refugees and migrants had arrived in Europe due to the conflict in Syria and serious instability in Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo and Eritrea.
We know the issues that refugees can bring with them upon arriving in a new country, such as the need for government money, housing and integration into a new society, but what problems do migrants face themselves? Generally, refugees tend to have poorer health, PTSD, depression and anxiety from the events they were leaving behind or encountered on their way (the route to Europe from African and middle-eastern countries is often fatal), problems with access to healthcare services in their new country, exploitation in various forms and finally, the risk of recruitment -forced or not- to terrorist or militant operations.
Becoming a refugee must be one of the hardest experiences to suffer – imagine losing your home to a problem you couldn’t affect, and coming to a new country where you are often demonised? Refugee week is a time to acknowledge these hardships and try to do something to help. There are fundraisers going on throughout England such as the ones in the link below.