Today, there are at least 70.8 million people officially living as refugees around the world — and far more than that when the homeless, dispossessed and those forced into a tenuous nomadic existence away from their homes are taken into account.
Together, since the turn of the new millennium, we have advanced in so many ways, be it in medical breakthroughs, the impact of technology on our daily lives, or from the prosperity that has been secured by a liberal trading system that has linked the corners of the world to marketplaces in most nations and every continent. But we have failed to solve the quandary of those forced from their homes through calamity, natural disaster, political and social unrest, and ethnic and religious violence. For every step forward, we have taken a step back.
In the richest cities in Europe and America, there are countless thousands who bed down each night in doorways and arches, sleeping on mattresses of cardboard or blankets of old newspapers. City authorities seem unwilling or unable to tackle this homelessness that is a stain on those who seek to build cleaner, greener, or taller. They have forgotten the small and the weary.
Tonight, in places like Jordan and Lebanon more than four million Syrians will sleep under canvas or plastic sheeting in makeshift tents, not knowing what or where the next days of this new year will bring. And in camps spread across western Europe, many more will wonder where they will be not in a decade’s time, but in a weeks’ time
Tonight, in places like Jordan and Lebanon more than four million Syrians will sleep under canvas or plastic sheeting in makeshift tents, not knowing what or where the next days of this new year will bring. And in camps spread across western Europe, many more will wonder where they will be not in a decade’s time, but in a weeks’ time.
In Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, more than half a million people will sleep rough in camps, living a nightmare that saw them persecuted and forced from their homes and villages in Myanmar simply because they are Muslim.
And yes, the UAE is doing its part to ease the Rohingyas’ burden by suppling aid and humanitarian assistance, just as the UAE does when and wherever calamity or catastrophe strikes.
In countless camps from the Middle East to Honduras, Haiti, the Levant or the Sahal, there are countless tens of thousands who know not what this year will hold.
For the desperate and desolate forced from their homes, that unknowing and uncertainty is their heaviest burden now. And for most of us, that is burden we are unable or unwilling to share. Only we can change that.