Just Saying: Musings, Opinions and Rantings Archives - Refugee Aware

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The Plight of Pregnant Refugee Women in Uganda

As in most refugee camps and settlements in developing countries, there are prevailing health issues, especially with diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS, malaria, skin diseases and many others. These maladies thrive as a result of congestion and inadequate health services or the lack thereof. There are other factors that could be attributed to certain cultural eccentricities, certain demographic persuasions and others.

However, no matter the cause of these health challenges, it is inexcusable that pregnant women, who are in labour and at the point of giving birth have to throw themselves on the mercies of the elements and the benevolence of friends and family because they are too poor to afford the life-saving care of hospitals and clinics.

This is the heartbreaking story of the woman in the pictures above, an urban refugee living in Uganda, who, unable to afford formal medical care, throws caution to the wind – some may even say ‘literally’ – and pushes out her baby in the dark at night and in the open.

Her story isn’t unique, as it emphasises a prevailing reality. Her story is however symbolic,  because it exposes us on many fronts. Tell me, how many of us are not going to be filled with indignation, not just with this story but with the many others we watch on the news all the time? And yet how long does that indignation lasts?

Her story exposes our own vulnerability because everyone is just a decision, a tragedy, a gunshot, a natural disaster away from pushing out babies in the dark at night without the comfort of nurses and comfortable beds with white sheets.

It exposes our sense of helplessness and above all our weaknesses in thinking, ‘What can one person do?’ And yet when all of us who are filled with indignation come together we are no longer an individual but a group. Our ‘little’ is ‘much’ when we pool together.

At Refugee Aware, we aim to go beyond the statistics and politics and throw light on real refugee issues around the world, and we thank our operation in Uganda for sending the pictures. Support our office in Uganda; support us to achieve our aim.

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Asylum Seekers: The Zombie Apocalypse

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A few months ago I saw the picture above on the Refugee Aware Twitter feed and instantly saved it. I didn’t like it, not for want of proper lightening, perspective, perfect distance or any of the many nuances that make one go ‘wow’ at a picture. As a matter of fact it was, in my opinion a perfectly taken picture; the angle was perfect, the distance was revelatory, and the lightening was aptly engaging, considering the situation; every element reinforcing a sense of foreboding, fear and relentlessness.

I have seen that picture before. Well, not quite the same one but several others with similar colours, tone, shade, shadows, perspective, inducing a sense of foreboding and an aura smacking of desperation, fear and determination. I saw that picture in the last zombie movie I saw, and the one before that, and the one… Well, you catch my drift.

In the movies, once the, shall we say ‘zombie epidemic’ breaks and the authorities finally accept – often following tragedy too close to home – that the stories were no ‘old wives’ tales’ borne out of boredom or a twisted sense of mischief, they build barriers and walls, trying to keep the infected out. Their motivation: fear of infection and death. On the one side of the barrier are soldiers with guns and on the other side the undead, clawing at the walls, stirred by the smell of blood, driven by the singular urge to kill and feed.

Does this remind you in any way of how we treat refugees and asylum seekers? We often treat them as though they are infected with a disease that would eventually wipe out the world as we know it. Most of our governments treat them like a cancerous cell that must be dealt with; a thing to be loathed and feared.

Often, when confronted with the stark reality that there is a sea of people banging on the barriers of our borders, crying to be let in, we play Jekyll and Hyde. We lose our humanity. We become absolutely petrified. We begin to think of the consequences and spend hours doing so, instead of looking for a solution.

Granted, once you let them in you’re not sure what you get. I don’t wish to trivialise this, but it’s pretty much like a bag of nuts. You’re likely to get a bad one in the mix. Does it mean you throw the whole bag away? We’re afraid we’ll get the good with the bad and the ugly. We fear letting them in would take an enormous toll on our security, health and economic apparatuses. Tough, isn’t it? But government are elected to deal with the things we cannot. To separate the good from the bad and the ugly. To find a way. A solution.

So what does it say of our governments and us, if we fail to save a life because that life might strap a bomb to their chest one day? What does it say of us when we neglect the many in fear of the few? Must we substitute humanity with fear? And if we do lose that which makes as human, have we then not become that which we fear? Are we then not the zombies?

Just thinking.

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