Wednesday, June 20, 2007

World Refugee Day - "It takes courage to be a refugee"

In marking World Refugee Day the UNHCR has articulated the courage it takes to become a refugee:

"As ordinary people living peaceful lives, we rarely have to put our courage to the test. Refugees are ordinary people, too, except that through no fault of their own, they find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. As such, they are often required to dig deep into their own inner sources of strength in order, as another dictionary puts it, to find “the ability to overcome fear.”

Initially, that fear may be the immediate one of trying to escape the horrors of war and persecution, the pain of losing homes and loved ones, and the ordeal of flight. Later comes the deeper anxiety of uncertainty —the worry of how to rebuild their lives, either in completely new circumstances, or back home where they now may not be welcome.

Yes, it certainly does take courage to be a refugee. It takes courage not to give up hope. Courage to make the most of the hand that has been dealt. Courage to start a new life against daunting odds, eventually to become contributing and enriching members of society once more.

There is no typical refugee. Every story is different, every loss is a personal one. But around the world different crises affect different groups. Some are almost settled. Other conflicts are new, with fresh refugee problems."

Oh yes, Mr Howard, these are the same people you have vilified, demonized and terrified to shore up your 'tough on boat people' image. One of the lowest acts of a leader is to whip up fear within a community for political gain. It goes to the character of the man and his capacity to provide moral leadership. We have been badly served on this front for the last eleven years and in the process the nation has lost its moral compass. A cursory trawl through some of the virtual cesspits masquerading as political blogs will confirm who let the junkyard dogs of racism out. Who knows what'll it take to get them chained up again, and pinned under a large spotlight!

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