Today we talk about refugees. The 5.3million Syrians that have fled their country due to war, and the 17.2million remaining refugees around the world. The total world population of refugees is a shocking 22.5million people, over a third of the UK population. What is even more shocking is that over half of these 22.5million refugees are under the age of 18. But what is a refugee?
A refugee is “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster”. So far according to the UNHCR, 8,011,800 refugees have been hosted by countries, with Turkey hosting 2.9million, Pakistan 1.4million and Lebanon 1million. It is sad to see that none of the richest countries in the world feature within even the top 6 countries to host refugees. The UK, being the sixth largest economy in the world, has only taken in 117,234 refugees and 37,829 asylum seekers, which is less than a quarter of 1% of the UK population.
Big countries with vast amounts of money are not willing to do their bit to help those in need whereas countries with less money and resources are trying to help those in need to the best of their capabilities. We have refugee children travelling across Europe and the English Channel to reach our country with many dying on the perilous journey they have to face. Put yourself in their shoes for a second and think about how you would feel and how bad the situation must be for you to have to leave your country and make a life or death journey to reach safety.
Child refugees tend to be more susceptible to illnesses due to poor sanitation and poor healthcare. Some children (particularly girls) are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. Young girls as young as 13 can be forced into marriage with men due to their families not being able to provide for them. The rate of child marriage in Jordan in 2016 was over 30%. This is the plight of refugees that we do not hear of.
El Shaarawi found that in the Iraqi refugee camps, 45% of females suffered from anaemia, whereas 75% of children suffered from it also; and 44% of women had an iron deficiency as well as 64% of children. Poor diets contribute to delayed development in children which can cause importable damage. Malnourishment causes issues with breastfeeding so new-borns that depend on mothers may often not survive.
As an example close to home, the Calais Refugee Camp, also known as the “Jungle” which has been burnt down and destroyed for the most part, but refugees still live there, namely 2,000 refugees. They have no access to basic sanitation, no shelter or a regular food supply. Care4Calais are an organisation who works to provide basic necessities for the refugees at this camp but it is extremely difficult to do so due to the vast number of refugees and limited support. In addition to this, there have been cases of police brutality at the camp due to refugees being treated as inferior and non-human by the French police.
The refugee crisis is a huge problem that does not seem to be slowing down or going away due to many countries in Civil War and at war with other countries. We must do as much as we can to help those in need whether it be donating money or food or clothing to these refugees but also by raising awareness of the plight of so many young children out there who are trying to reach safety. We only have to take the example of Aylan Kurdi, a three year old Syrian boy, who was found washed up on British shores after trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea with his family.
The photo hit the hearts of millions around the country and is a strong symbol to emphasis the dangerous journey that many each and every day take to reach safety but many fail in doing so. Whatever we can do to help those in need, we should do because one day, we could be the ones in the same situation as them.