The Refugee Crisis Is a Test of Our Character

David Miliband Ted Talk (The Refugee Crisis Is a Test of Our Character)

The previous few post from yesterday was mainly about refugee. So, just to add another one. 

This is a Ted Talk by David Miliband, the president of the International Rescue Committee.

Key Points from his talk

  • The refugee crisis resulted from a declining international political system, weak nations, and theological, social and political differences among Muslims.
  • How Westerners respond to the global refugee crisis will reveal their character and humanity and whether they will uphold or reject their democratic legacy.
  • Ensuring the survival of those fleeing violence and persecution is the humane response. But though people want to help, most see the problem as unsolvable.
  • However, four solutions exist: (1) enable refugees to work so they don’t need aid. (2) educate refugee children. (3) give refugees money for rent and clothing. (4) welcome a small number of refugees into the West as a symbolic gesture.
  • Personally we can be proactive by hiring refugees, supporting relevant charities, debunking falsehoods about other cultures and voting for politicians with refugee-friendly policies.

Today, the same countries that gave sanctuary to World War II refugees are turning away asylum seekers. Yet globally, the battered and persecuted continue to flee their nations, including people displaced by chemical warfare in Syria, Taliban activity in Afghanistan and Boko Haram’s violent campaigns in Nigeria.

The refugee crisis formed due to the decline in the international political system, weak governance in many countries, and theological, social and political differences among Muslims.

In 2015, more than 3,700 people died seeking sanctuary, including five-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose lifeless body appeared in a photo that evoked compassion worldwide. Hostility and oppression displaced 65 million people in 2016; 40 million stayed in their homeland, and 25 million left for a neighboring country. Displacement is long term, averaging a decade.

Dadaab, the so-called temporary Kenyan refugee camp built for Somalis escaping civil war, houses 330,000 people. Almost a third of that population was born in the camp. Families and children in refugee camps need help. How the global population responds will reveal its character. 

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Four (Possible) Solutions 

  • First, enable refugees to work. In Uganda, 80% of refugees in the country’s capital are employed and thus need no humanitarian aid.
  • Second, provide education, as well as social and emotional support, to refugee children.
  • Third, give refugees, most of whom inhabit cities, money for rent and clothing. This will help local economies too.
  • Fourth, Western nations must absorb a relatively small number of refugees as a symbolic gesture. Contrary to inflammatory political rhetoric, refugees aren’t terrorists but victims of terror. They’re “more vetted” than any other incoming population.

“The world is more connected than ever before, yet the great danger is that we’re consumed by our divisions. And there is no better test of that than how we treat refugees.”

Refugees bring different beliefs and culture, and that should motivate, not deter, their welcome. After World War II, Western democracies created protections for refugees.

The persecuted still view these countries as havens. Additionally, Western mistakes in foreign policy added to the crisis, so the West has a duty to offer relief. Act personally: Hire refugees, support relevant charities, debunk cultural falsehoods and vote for politicians with refugee-friendly policies. In 1942, Monsieur Maurice, a Catholic farmer near Brussels, helped shelter 17 Jewish people from the Nazis. When asked why, he said only, “One must.” That is, saving others from violence is the humane response.

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Further reading


Categories: Personal Development, Quotes, Reading Notes

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