New approach to refugee camps
By Kathleen Agena – firstname.lastname@example.org
This tragic scenario can be avoided if a more realistic approach to the refugee crisis is adopted.
There are more refugees in the world now than at any other time in history. Estimates of currently displaced populations range from 45 to 50 million, and that number is increasing a the astounding rate of one newly displaced person every four seconds. Initially, refugee camps were considered to be temporary settlements, and the majority of the refugees were resettled to their homes or to other countries similar to their original homeland.
Today, however, the majority of refugees do not return to their homes nor are they resettled elsewhere. Instead, most of them live marginalized, despondent lives in desolate conditions and will spend the remainder of their lives doing so.
This tragic scenario can be avoided if a more realistic approach to the refugee crisis is adopted. Many of the refugees that have been displaced into the camps have professional and vocational skills. If they were provided with the resources they need to utilize those skills, they could begin to lead their lives again in far better circumstances, even if they remained inside the camps. They would no longer have to exist in the vacuum of despair that typifies conditions within most of the camps.
The various agencies of the United Nations and major non-profit organizations are knowledgeable and experienced in providing impoverished populations and the victims of natural disasters and wars with the resources they need to improve and rebuild their lives. Their expertise along with that of entrepreneurs should be applied and implemented within refugee camps in the same way that they are currently being employed outside the camps.
The magnitude of the refugee crisis, which is increasing so rapidly on a daily basis, has placed an enormous financial burden on the major humanitarian agencies attempting to assist the refugees, which they are not equipped to carry. It has placed an equally heavy burden on the collective consciousness of us all. When such large numbers of the global population are enduring extreme hardships every day, we are all affected by it. Whether consciously or unconsciously we feel their sorrow and despair. To empower them, to restore their dignity and renew their hope for the future, would ultimately uplift and enhance our own humanity and well-being.
Let this be a call to action for a new perspective and approach to refugees…that we begin to assist them in the same manner in which we assist impoverished populations or victims of disasters so that refugees will no longer be forced to exist in the margins of our lives, but will rejoin us as productive and enriching members of the global community we share.
Kathleen Agena has served with several United Nations agencies. She is President of The Lindus Institute, which promotes intercultural cooperation and understanding on a broad rang of international issues.
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