Written by U Ne Oo on 1995-01-01
Adelaide Voices is some kind of activist news journal which most contributors found to be social justice/human rights advocates. A copy of AV can be ordered from Adelaide Voices, PO Box 6042, Halifax Street, South Australia 5000.
EDITORIAL: AN ARTICLE ON REFUGEES
(by Dr U Ne Oo -- a Burmese refugee campaigning for human rights.)
The outflow of thousands of Hutu refugees from Rwanda pouring into neighbouring Zaire has shed some light on the nature and meaning of refugees: refugees are people who have fled from persecution and violence.
Most of the refugee movements around the world and the underlying root causes for their flight, however, are not necessarily as obvious. While the public media usually focus on the most sensational aspects such as extreme violence, the movements of 18.2 million refugees today are hardly as newsworthy.
The public perception of refugees, in large measure, is that they try to escape poverty and seek to enjoy asylum in richer countries.
Such perceptions have little credibility when examining the true statistics of poverty and refugees: there are more than one billion people living in absolute poverty worldwide who have not become refugees. Furthermore, refugees. Furthermore, most of today's refugees reside in their neighbouring countries whose local residents also live in poverty.
The root causes of the flights of refugees have been varied: armed conflicts, generalised violence, gross and persistence violation of human rights, repression of minorities and the violence entailed in the breakdown of law and order.
There are anxieties in national governments that the granting of temporary asylum and giving humane treatment to refugees may encourage more refugees to enter their territory. Furthermore, such alien populations are vulnerable to being manipulated as scapegoats and targeted for persecution by political groups which are seeking public support.
The national governments normally justified the inhuman treatment to refugees as a necessary deterrent element. A deprivation of food and basic necessities are often made as a means to discourage the refugees' stay in their territory.
The international community therefore needs to give attention to such incidents and advocate that the treatment to refugees and asylum seekers be as humane as possible.
When refugees return to their home countries, the logistic support of the international community is the most crucial element in the success of such an operation. Since these refugees usually return to an environment of continuing social and political strife, ongoing moral support and attention to their situation is necessary.
Successful reintegration programs require financial support. The assistance to refugees in the repatriation programs is normally inadequate an has often been described as "the cooking pot and hand shake".
The financial support to rebuild the communities and life of the refugees is useful not only for short term but also for long term stability.
The community attitude to these refugee crises normally is sympathetic, but lacks understanding of the underlying root causes, such as human rights situations. It is therefore necessary to support and join human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to help in resolving the problems.
Only when human rights are respected in those refugee producing countries, will there be an end to the refugee problem.