Monday, January 25, 2016

The Unfair Reality- Living Conditions for Refugees

By Colette Whitney

This week has been filled with new information about refugee services and what Italy has to offer to help refugees get acclimated in their new country. These organizations do a great job of providing housing, education, healthcare and legal assistance for a period of time. According to the UNHCR there has been over 8 million refugees that have come to Europe in the last 10 years, and that's just Europe. Think of how many there are across the world. Where do all these people stay? There are many refugee camps across the world. The largest camp, Hagadera, is in Kenya, housing over 138,102 refugees. These camps provide basic services such as water, food, and shelter but the living conditions are poor- no electricity, heat or basic facilities. An article from the Guardian titled LIfe in a refugee camp: The cold and fear get into your bones gives you a refugee's perspective of living in a refugee camp. The refugee explains, “But to describe this as a camp is wrong. This is a swamp. There are no basic facilities. None. It’s a field of mud and tattered tents. I am surrounded by people waiting to see a doctor holding little tickets, eyeing each other with suspicion.” The refugees that are in these impacted camps and are out on the streets will have poor health which will slow down their process of learning a new language and finding a job, which then prolongs their time of adjusting and fully acclimating. These people are forced out of their countries due to violence and war and these camps are what they have to look forward to. Society has to make a change and make the living conditions better for these people.

One way you can help is by hosting a refugee at your own home. France and other countries in Europe partner with organizations to make this possible. There are many benefits to hosting a refugee that one may not of thought of. First, when you host someone in your home you know that you are providing safety for them. But also you also get to learn a new culture and a different perspective. You can potentially learn a new language, a new way of cooking and new traditions which will make your life richer and most importantly, you will get to make a new friend. Letting a stranger into your house may make some feel uncomfortable, but if we all could break that barrier and get a better sense of community it would make such a large and positive impact. Less people would be left homeless in the streets and the refugees can become more acclimated sooner. Now the question is how do we get America to be open minded about the refugees so we can accept more of them into the country, and work together to help them adjust to their new life? Time to take a stand and move forward.