As I flew home from Jordan earlier this year, I tried to digest all of the stories I had just heard: Families of Syrian refugees telling me of their ornate houses back home, now destroyed; of their extended families all living together, many of those family members now dead; of being forced to flee everything that they knew within a matter of minutes, even seconds.
A new how-to manual for aid workers lays out the issues and practical steps that all must take to ensure women's sexual and reproductive health and rights, including menstrual health that is a precursor to preventing and mitigating gender based violence. Included in these guidelines is a specific requirement to ensure dignified access to hygiene-related materials.
I believe Canada must do more and become a global model. Canada should increase its acceptance of refugees, regardless of their home country. A refugee is a refugee, regardless of their origin. Settling a larger number of refugees each year is just one solution Canada could consider. Canada should also provide increased humanitarian assistance in crisis situations, and increase its development assistance in fragile states.
The current global migration crisis has been exacerbated by governments shirking their obligations to protect people during their most vulnerable moments. States are increasingly disregarding their responsibilities to uphold the rights of migrants and refugees, and are failing to treat them with humanity and dignity.
Whether through civil war or other forms of conflict, natural disasters or climate related disasters such as drought, the global scale of displaced people is unprecedented. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are now over 60 million forcibly displaced people around the world including 19.5 million refugees -- the highest number on record!
The holy month of Ramadan is upon us. This is a time when Muslims all around the world abstain from all food, drink and sexual pleasure during daylight hours. It is also a time when Muslims remember those less fortunate around the world by giving a portion of their wealth to charitable causes. Every Ramadan, here at Islamic Relief Canada, we pick a global issue that we campaign and fundraise on, and this month we're calling for more action towards ending the global refugee crisis.
Over the following months in 2001, the violence continued in Burundi between the rebels and the government. My passion for my work diminished. I no longer felt like doing anything. I even stopped watching the news on TV, or even listening to it on my own radio station. Everything looked hopeless. In 2002, some Canadian journalists visited Burundi. If I were going to ask for help, it was now or never. Six months later, they invited me to visit Canada, and I jumped on the opportunity. I arrived in Canada with $60 in my pocket -- my mother's life savings.
This Saturday, June 20, is the UN World Refugee Day. It's a day set aside every year to recognize the plight of refugees and acknowledge the efforts of those who assist them, often in the face of life-threatening obstacles. We need to recognize realities but not despair. We need to focus the global mind on our collective responsibility. We need to roll up our sleeves and help those who are so deserving of our assistance while urging others to double and triple their efforts to end the underlying conditions that have created this unacceptable human catastrophe.
On World Refugee Day 2015 (June 20), events around the world recognize the more than 50 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. It is a day to reflect on the strength and resilience of the millions who have fled their countries and we acknowledge the efforts of individuals and groups who are devoted to supporting refugee populations.
Before we left Kampala, Uganda's capital, it was a daily occurrence for me as a young child to see dead bodies in the street and to fall asleep to the sounds of machine guns and screams. And when my father failed to come home, I always thought that his voice was one of those screams I heard in the night.
Just over a decade ago, the UN declared June 20th as World Refugee Day. But in Canada today, we are losing our noble traditions of welcoming refugees and giving them full benefits. Thankfully, there are organizations like the Canada Centre for Victims of Torture that are trying to help out these immigrants in any way they can.