Have you ever thought about how many people are displaced, fleeing from their homes, or have even died just because they are trying to escape the violence and persecution of their home countries?
Just to give you an idea, the United Nations Refugee Agency tells us that there are more than 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide — that’s more than the entire population of Italy. More than 20 million of these individuals are refugees, half of whom are under 18 years old, and 10 million of these individuals are stateless people. You probably also think that all of these refugees are from Syria? Think again. Although that’s the buzz these days, refugees come from more countries than just Syria. Fifty-four percent of the world’s refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. The average amount of time somebody spends in a refugee camp is 15 years. Can you believe that? If you were born in a camp, you would spend your time growing up knowing no other way of life. This needs to be addressed. Just think of the access to healthcare, education, and employment these individuals are missing out on, and how we could be a part in fixing it.
There seems to be a stigma surrounding allowing refugees into the United States, but I don’t exactly know why. Is it because we also seem to have the stigma that we think anybody who looks like they’re from the Middle East is Muslim, and therefore they are automatically a terrorist? Because that is definitely not true either. These people are fleeing from their homes because they have no other choice. If they had the choice to stay at home, they would. Many of these people were doctors and lawyers and businessmen, and they had to give up their lives to escape the violence and torture that’s happening in their own countries. So many have died trying to find a way to escape the violence occurring at home.
We also tend to forget that the United States is a nation of immigrants. This nation was first built from those who wanted to escape religious differences and has evolved from this. None of us can say we are 100 percent American unless we are Native Americans. We are all a mix of something, whether it be Irish, German, Italian and so on. If you think of that, we really don’t have much of an excuse to refuse allowing these refugees into our country.
Another point that people don’t realize is that unless these refugees want to stay in the country they seek protection in, the ultimate goal of humanitarian organizations all over the world is to get them back to their home country once it’s safe. These refugees had no other choice but to leave in the first place, so having the goal of placing them back home is a phenomenal one. There is hope for these refugees, and refusing to give them a temporary home because of this stigma and a fear that is not well founded is not a proper excuse. Refugees are humans too, and they deserve to be treated as such.