National Immigration Forum

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A Human Face behind the Refugee Statistics

June 21, 2012 - Posted by Guest


A post by National Immigration Forum communications intern Minola Fernando:

Yesterday, on World Refugee Day, I had the opportunity to attend No Place Called Home, a play presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

I learned that out of 43.7 million refugees worldwide, 4.7 million are Iraqis who were displaced due to military intervention in their country. Playwright and actress Kim Schultz and musician Amikaeyla Gaston brought this staggering statistic to life.

When the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq, the effects were devastating for many Iraqi civilians. Doctors, lawyers, artists and cab drivers, men, women, and children — all were affected. Many made the difficult decision to leave their homes and the lives they were used to behind in order to protect their families. Many had no choice but to leave. Some left because there was no longer anything or anyone left in the place they used to call home.

It can be easy to hear a statistic and overlook the fact that behind a number are real people with stories of sadness and suffering, but who also have hope for the future. Schultz and Gaston gave members of the audience an opportunity to “meet” these people and learn about the circumstances many of them endured that put them in the situations they are in today. They witnessed the murders of friends and family, and experienced violence and torture. They often could not even find refuge in the places to which they fled, as they were ostracized for being outsiders.

Although the war in Iraq may officially be over, millions of people still suffer the consequences. Not only on World Refugee Day but every day we must recognize the plight of refugees and reflect on their stories, dreams, and hopes for a future in which they may once again have a place to call home.

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