A refugee is anyone who leaves their home and their possessions in order to protect their physical well-being. Becoming a refugee is usually a last resort that occurs in the most desperate of situations that, unfortunately, changes their life forever. Obviously none of us would ever want to be forced to give up everything we have in this world, but tragically there are times when that decision must be made to ensure the safety of loved ones. Refugees are the walking wounded of the human race. They have lost so much and they are often left without hope. Their future can be bleak or uncertain at best. They are often forgotten by the rest of humanity as they suffer in mass out of sight and out of our consciousness.

At any given moment there are millions of refugees around the world. A significant percentage of this population is made up of women and children. Sadly, it is the innocent and most vulnerable who always seem to suffer in disproportionate measure. And what is even worse is the fact that many of the horrific circumstances that force large groups of human beings to flee for their lives are man-made. Far too often we are the culprits that displace hundreds of thousands of people. We are the instigators of the suffering and misery. We are responsible for the loss of life and livelihood of so many. A refugee population is a reflection of our inhumanity. It demonstrates our lack of concern for others and our willingness to hurt fellow human beings in our selfish efforts to fulfill our own desires.

So, what creates a refugee population in the first place? How does it happen? What makes conditions deteriorate to the point that significant numbers of human beings are at risk?

By far the single greatest cause is armed conflict. Nothing creates a massive amount of refugees as quickly as war. Although barbaric and indefensible, civilian populations are often targeted for bombings and missile attacks. And even when they are struck unintentionally as in the case of “collateral damage” the death and destruction is just as real and heartbreaking. As armies advance or death reigns down from the sky entire families grabs what few things they can carry and flee in panic, praying that they can get their children to safety before the horror of war overtakes them. Many, of course, are not able to escape. For all of the refugees who make it out of a war zone alive there are countless others who die miserable deaths as they desperately try to save their children. It is the shame of humanity that the innocent are the victims of our unrepentant brutality.

Famine, which is sometimes the result of poor planning and farming practices, can also force concentrated groups of people to leave an area that is rife with hunger in order to feed their families. Often there are long marches to the nearest settlements to obtain food – and many perish on the journey. Persecution is another reason that human beings are forced from their homeland. This can be in the form of either political or religious persecution. In either case specific groups are targeted for abuse, retribution, cruelty, the denial of human rights and even death simply because of their view points or beliefs. But as bad as these causes are there is one reason for people to flee for their lives that is truly sickening and that is genocide.

“Ethnic cleansing”, as it has been referred to down through the decades, is behavior that is so deplorable that the entire world is shocked and horrified when it takes place. To slaughter innocent human beings simply because of who there are, because of where they were born or because of the color of their skin is inhuman. To have to give up everything in your life in order to save your children just because of their ethnicity is intolerable. We cannot allow people to be forced to flee for their lives simply because they are perceived to be different. We are one humanity. Every person on earth is an equal member of the human family. Every individual has the same rights and privileges as anyone else.  Groups frantically seeking asylum from genocide represent the depths of depravity that our species is capable of.

In the desperate attempt to save as many lives as possible, refugees are often herded into huge densely packed camps. Tens of thousands of people are forced to live virtually on top of each other. These camps are breeding grounds for disease and infection. There is little or no sanitation. Food and water are scarce, as is medical treatment. All these things combine to make life unbearable. And what have they done to deserve such treatment? Why have they lost their homes, their possessions and most importantly their loved ones? They are simply trying to survive. They are not at war with anyone. They are not trying to capture land or resources. They are not trying to overthrow a government. They are just trying to feed themselves and their children. And yet they are forced to suffer the most. They are brutalized. They are tortured and killed. They are introduced to extreme poverty.

Refugees are the innocent bystanders to man’s inhumanity to man. They are the blameless victims of mankind’s lust for power and greed. They are forced into a life of despair with no way of escape. Often families become separated as they are forced to evacuate combat zones. Imagine the horror of losing track of your parents or losing contact with your children – not knowing whether they are safe or in danger, whether they are dead or alive. No one should be forced to live in a constant state of terror under such primitive conditions. Unfortunately, as the human toll escalates the international aid that could save thousands of lives is often diverted to those who are creating the misery and suffering. Food and medical care that is meant for innocent children is hoarded by the killers. To purposely allow the helpless to starve to death is a horrific crime and should be punished accordingly.

Until humanity can find more intelligent and civilized ways to settle its differences there will, unfortunately, continue to be refugees. And as long as there are large populations that are displaced the problem of extreme poverty cannot truly be eliminated. The solution to war and the refugee crisis it creates is the same. We have to treat everyone, everywhere equally and with compassion. We have to be tolerant of those who are different than us. We have to respect all people and treat them with dignity. We have to realize that all human life is sacred. We have to understand that everyone has the same basic rights to food, water, shelter and medical care. In short, we have to learn to love one another.  


2 thoughts on “REFUGEES

  1. This is one surprising article which I never expected to find, as I was doing my research on global poverty. Thank you Michael for this wonderful article that you have written. I only wish all of us had the same passion on this issue, this world would have been a better place for every human being that walks this earth.

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